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119 852 


UNIVERSAL 

UBRARY 







HUMAJ^ PT^RSOi^ALITY 

AND ITS SUEVIVAL OP 
BODILY DEATH 


BY 

FREDERIC W. H. MYERS 


Cessas in vota frecesque^ 

TroSy aiij Aenca^ cess as J Neque enirn ante dehiscent 
Adioniice magna era domus,^ Virgil. 

*‘Nay/** queih the Syhily “ Trojan! wilt thou sjfare 
The imfasskned effort and the conquering frayer'i 
Nay! not save thus those doors shall open roUy — 

That Power within them burst upon the soulP 


IN TWO VOIUMES 
VOL. ir 


LONG-MANS, GREEN, AND GO. 

91 ASD 93 PIITH AVENUE, NEW YORK 

LONDON AND BOMBAY 

1903 



Ooi»Tr3FtxoT3C'r, 1903, 3»Tr 

XiOisrctiviLAisrs , oxtEiisasr, -A.3srx> 

-AZI 


OO, 


t®^eTc>rxita.sr3r, 1 OO^’I 



CONTENTS 


SYLLABUSES .... 

• • 

• 

FAGS 

. vii 

CHAP. 

VII. PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 

• • 

. 

. I 

VIII. MOTOR AUTOMATISM 

. 

• 

. 8i 

IX. TRANCE, POSSESSION, AND ECSTASY . 


. 1S9 

X. EPILOGUE 

* • 

• 

. 278 

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER VII . 

• • 

• 

• 315 

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER VIII . 

• • 

• 

0 

0 

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER IX . 

• • 

i 

. 500 

INDEX 

• « 


. 629 




SYLLABUSES 


CHAPTER VII 

PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 

700. From the actions and perceptions of spirits still in the flesh, and con- 
cerned with one another, we must now pass on to inquiry into the actions of 
spirits no longer in the flesh, and into the forms of perception with which men 
still in the flesh respond to this unfamiliar agency. 

701. There has been no clear consensus of opinion as to the kind of evi- 
dence which ought to be demanded if human survival is to be proved. My 
object is to make that evidence at once clear in itself and continuous with 
knowledge already acquired. 

702. Considering in the first place the vague term “ ghost ” we cannot 
accept the popular notion of a ghost as “ a deceased person permitted by Pro- 
vidence to hold communication with survivors.*’ 

703. What we must rather look for is a “ manifestation of persistent per- 
sonal energy,” continuing after the shock of death. Such manifestations are 
not specially likely to correspond with the romances of popular fancy. 

704. We ought rather to look for possible analogies to such cases as we 
already know where communication has been effected between widely different 
phases of personality — ^as between wakers and somnambulists, &c. 

705. And reviewing both our experiments in automatism and our spon- 
taneous phenomena, we find in each group three main classes of messages— 
namely, sensory hallucinations, emotional and motor impulses, definite intellec- 
tual messages. 

706. The same three classes meet us again in our analysis of apparently 
j^ost^mortetn communications also. 

707. Yet, though with these analogies in our favour, we need a somewhat 
close discussion of the conditions which a visual or auditory phantasm is bound 
to fulfil before it can be regarded as indicating prim6, facie the influence of a 
discarnate mind. Such a discussion, based mainly on the time-relation between 
the death and the apparition, is here quoted from Edmund Gurney. 

708. Further inquiry into the limits of possible latency in the percipient’s 
mind of an impression received from a still living agent, 

709. Consideration of special cases in which a hallucination occurring 
shortly after a death already known might possess evidential validity. 

710. Cases of recurrence of a phantasm, first about the time of death (the 
death being unknown to the percipient), and then decidedly after the death had 
occurred* 


vii 



X 


SYLLABUSES 


747. Phantasmal sounds, non-articulate, but intelligent, apparently ascrib- 
able to the agency of deceased persons; case of Mr. L. 747 A. Case of 
Mrs. Horne. 

748. These sounds, although apparently analogous to Poltergeist pheno- 
mena, rarely appear in connection with them. 

749. Apart, however, both from inarticulate sounds and from Poltergeist 
phenomena, there is much evidence to haunting j — to the fact, that is, that in 
many houses several persons have independently seen phantasmal figures more 
or less resembling each other. Hypotheses of interpretation, suggested by 
Mrs. Sidgwick. 

750. In my own view, the phantasm may imply a local modification, not 
of the material, but of the metetherial world. • 

751. And the apparent influence of certain hojisesin generating apparitions 
may form part of the problem of retrocognitionj—oi phenomena now occurring 
which recall and in some unknown way depend upon long-past events; — 
whether as their sequel or as their residue. Cases oh 751 A, MLss iMorton. 
751 B. Miss Scott. 

752. We have reached a point where our study of sensory autoniati.sm.s — 
their time coincidences and their significant details— })as taught u.s for the 
present nearly all it can; while we crave for some more potent method of 
analysis, some wider field of induction, if we arc to meet the novel problems 
which arise on every side. Such wider field is offered to us by the study of 
motor automatisms, to which we must proceed in the ne.xt cha])tcr. 

753. One lesson of high importance rises so manifestly from the vvidtmce 
already studied that it calls for mention here. That worltl-old ctmcvptlon of 
Evil Spirits, of malevolent Powers, which has been the hasi.s of so inm’h 
causeless fear, melts from the mind altogether as wc study the actual facts. 

754. Other ethical indications, of lofty and at the .same time evolutionary 
type, occur incidentally in the course of our independent demonstration of the 
profoundest cosmical thesis which we can conceive as susceptible of seienlific 
proof. 

755. Appeal for further collaboration in this absolutely necessary tptest. 


CHAPTER VIII 

MOTOR AUTOMATISM 

800. The lines of evidence followed in previous chapters, and here briefly 
recapitulated, are in themselves sufficient to justify the reader in provisional 
acceptance of my primary thesis— namely, that the analysis of man’s {xsrson- 
ality reveals him as a spirit, surviving bodily death. This pint has b*?<*n 
reached by the discussion of phenomena, such as dreams and ghosts, already 
vaguely familiar to the popular mind. 

801. There are still, however, phenomena-- less familiar to the ordinary 
reader— which await discussion, and which will add greatly to the evidence for 



chapter Viii 


my central contention. Prominent among these are 7notor auto^natisms ; and 
it is important to understand which of such automatisms (after dismissing 
morbid varieties) I retain here for discussion as evolutive phenomena. 

802. Before answering this question in detail, we must realise the pre^ 
liminary theorem that it maybe expected that ^supernormal vital phenomena 
will manifest themselves as far as possible through the same channels as 
abnormal or morbid vital phenomena. 

803. To distinguish between the developmental and the degenerative we 
must study each psychical phenomenon in turn ; considering whether it indi- 
cates mere inhibition, mere perturbation ; — or whether the inhibition involves 
latent dynamogeny, and the perturbation masks evolution. 

804. Automatic movements may be scientifically more important than 
conscious movements ; in fact, they lead up to those trance-utterances which 
form in my view our most advanced phenomena. 

805. We may begin by pointing out certain main characters which unite 
in a true class all the automatisms which we are here considering. They are 
idiogno7no7iic and ^lunciative, 

806. Example of simple form of nunciative automatism in muscle-reading. 
The unconscious tremor reveals both my thought and my memory. 

807. Case of nunciative or message-bearing automatism in words written 
in obedience to post-hypnotic suggestion. 

808. Illustration from the dynamometer of automatic transformation of 
will into motion. 

809. Simple motor externalisation of subliminal thought in table- tilting. 

810. The automatist no doubt unconsciously sets going and stops such 
movements; but the word which is thus spelt out is by no means always 
what he wished or expected. Other indications that the tilts are subliminally 
controlled. 

811. A more elaborate form of automatic gesture inspires what are called 
‘‘spirit-drawings.’^ 811 A. Mr. Wilkinson on spirit-drawings. 

812. Before entering on the impending subject of automatic writing, I inter- 
rupt my exposition to introduce two historical cases of automatism, — one of them 
inhibitory, one dynamogenic, — ^which add to my subject the dignity of the great 
names of Socrates and -Joan of Arc. The automatisms of Socrates are now 
capable of coherent explanation. 

813. The monitions of the Daemon of Socrates consisted mainly in saga- 
cious inhibitions. 

814. There is also some slight indication of Socratic telepathy, clairvoyance, 
ecstasy. 

815. Joan of Arc an example of monitory wipulsej her voices (not always 
clearly externalised) impel her irresistibly to the noblest doings. 815 A, Mr** 
A. Lang on Joan of Arc. 

816. These two great historical cases illustrate the furthest extent of the 
claim that can be made for the agency of the subliminal self in similar auto- 
matisms -apart from telepathy or possession. 

817. They launch us on our subject with the consciousness of two diffi- 
culties. We have to decide for each case— first, whether we are to call it 
sensory or motor ; then, whether we are to attribute its origination to the auto- 
matist's or to some other mind. It is antecedently likely that the subliminal 
self will sometimes express its messages in terms (so to say) of profound 



SYLLABUSES 


xii 

organic modifications. Cases of: 817 A. Dr. N. 817 B and C. Mrs. Had- 
selle. 817 D. Lady de Vesci. 

818. The inhibitory impulses may sometimes relate to exceedingly trivial 
matters. Cases of : 818 A. Mrs. Verrall. 818 B. Mrs. Elliott. 

819. Or a sudden inhibition may be combined with a corresponding im- 
pulse; case of Dr. Hodgson finding five-leaved clover. 819 A. Case of Dr. 
Guebhard finding bifid fern. 

820. Sometimes the impulse may conceivably be explained by a subcon- 
scious perception or interpretation. — Case of Mr. Wyman. 

821. A similar case where the sense of smell may have played a part. — 
Case of Mr. C. W. Moses, 821 A. Case of Mrs. Gray. 

822. Another case, possibly due to smell or sense of varying resistance in 
the air.— Mr. Wait. 

823. A similar case, perhaps attributable to excessive tactile sensibility. — 
Mr, W. 

824. A case of inhibition which seems beyond explanation by hyperses- 
thesia, and suggests telmsthesia or spirit guardianship. — Dr. Parsons. 

825. We next come to cases involving massive motor impulses to various 
actions. Case of Mr. Garrison. 825 A. Case of Mr. Skirving. 

826. Innate predisposition to motor automatisms of various kinds. Scheme 
of increasingly specialised motor phenomena. Rise of automatic writing. — 
Edmund Gurney and W. Staimon Moses. My own experience. 

827. Automatic writing a mode of experiment harmless in itself. 

828. Classification of contents of messages. 

829. Most automatic script originates in the automatist’s own brain. — Mr. 
H. A. Smith’s cases, 

830. Reference to anagrams in the “ Clclia” case. 830 A. The Clelia ” 
case. 

831. Case of Professor Sidgwick’s friend. 

832. Mr- Schiller’s case (832 A) ; — appearance of fictitiou.s personalities, 
although neither invited nor credited by the automatist. 832 B. Case of Sa'ur 
Jeanne. 

833. Case of Madame X. An unusual combination of various motor 
automatisms. 

834. The cases just described lead up to Professor Flournoy’s case of 
“ H6Rne Smith.” 

835. Mile. Smith an example of continuous and complex subliminal menta^ 
tion going on in a perfectly healthy and normal organism. 

836. Her alleged reincarnations. 

837. The Martian language. 

838. Reversion to previous epochs of life. 

839. Possible sport of spirits. 

840. Mile. Smith’s ** teleological ” automatisms. 

841. Indications of supernormal faculty. 

842. Possible telepathy from the dead. The Chessenaz case. 

848. We now pass on to cases of phenomena much more clearly super** 
normal. Telepathy obtained through table-tilting. Cases of; 043 A. Pro** 
fessor Richet 843 B. Mr. G. M. Smith. 

844. I give next cases of automatic writing, the first of which (Mrs. 
Moberley’s) shows indications of telepathy. 



CHAPTER VIII xiii 

845. Telepathic cases simulating prophecy ; e.g.^ that of Miss SummerbelL 

846. Answers to questions written correctly, although not as the agent 
supraliminally intended; case of Mr. Allbright 

847. Another telepathic case, involving the agent’s subliminal thoughts.— 
Mr. Riddell. 

848. Our most striking case is a long series of telepathic communications 
between Mr. and Mrs. Newnham. 

849. Mrs. Newnham writes automatically answers to unspoken questions 
by Mr. Newnham. 849 A. Case of Mrs. Newnham. 

850. A similar but shorter series is given in the next Appendix. 850 A. 
Case of Mr. Buttemer. 

851. The next case shows occasional telepathy, mingled with fragments of 
apparent clairvoyance and premonition. 851 A. Case of Lady Mabel Howard. 

852. A case of communication through table-tilting from a distant agent. — 
Mrs. Kirby. 852 A. Case of M. Auguez; — prediction of death. 852 B. 
Signor Bonatti’s automatic writing ; telepathy from a distant living agent. 

853. Transitional cases information purporting to come from deceased 
persons, but more probably derived telepathically from the living ; case of Mr. 
Lewis. 

854. Message purporting to come from a deceased person who was found 
to be living; case of Mr. Long. 

855. Case of automatic writing reproducing experimentally the thoughts of * 
the persons present. 

856. Statement through table-tilting of incident occurring at the time in a 
neighbouring house. — Professor Alexander’s case. 

857. 'relepathy may produce erroneous statements through the agent’s 
thoughts being reproduced as matters of fact. 857 A. Case of Professor H. 

858. Dr. Ermacora’s experiments with a sensitive,— Maria Manzini. 858 A. 
Her automatic writing gives the contents of a letter which reached her next 
I morning. 

859. The information may be derived from discarnate spirits — though not 
•necessarily from those alleged in the communications. The communicators 
may deliberately veil their identity, and may also have access to sources of 
'knowledge remote even to themselves. 859 A. These problems are exemplified 
rin the automatic writings of Miss A. 

^ 860. In these and other retrocognitive cases, it is difficult to decide 

^between the hypotheses of ‘‘ cryptomnesia” and spirit-control. 

861. Mr. Wedgwood’s experiments with Mrs. R. ; — case of communications 
^purporting to come frOm Colonel Gurwood (who died in 1845 ). 

862. Another retrocognitive case of the same kind through Mrs. R., 
namely 862 A. The “ David Brainerd ” case. 

86*3. But retrocognitive messages referring to matters easily accessible in 
print (eg. Mr. Moses’ case of musical composers, giving dates of their lives), 
even if genuine, may be attributed to clairvoyance on the part of the automatist. 

864. A resemblance of the handwriting to that of the deceased person is 
sometimes alleged, but must be received with caution. 864 A. Professor Rossi- 
Pagnoni’s experiments at Pesaro. 

865. Another case of alleged resemblances of handwriting, which also 
illustrates the spontaneous recurrence of the same problems with automatists 
of many different types, namely 865 A. Case of Mrs. Underwood. 



XIV 


SYLLABUSES 


866. Cases where the writing announces a death unknown to the persons 
present instance reported by Dr. Lidbeault. 

867. In another case, partially correct details about the death are added. 
867 A. Case of Mdlle. Stramm. 

868. Sometimes telekinetic phenomena seem to be associated with the 
announcement of a death. 868 A. The Pdrdliguine case. 868 B. Case of 
Mr. F. Hodgson. 868 C. Ref. to “ Woodd knockings.” 

869. Cases where correct details unknown to the automatist are given 
regarding a death which is known to him. 869 A. Case of Mrs. Fitzgerald. 
869 B. The SkrytnikoJEE case. 

870. A communication corresponding, not to the knowledge of the sitters, 
but to what was known to the alleged communicator before death. 870 A. 
Case of Signor Cavalli. 

871. Automatic writing by a child, showing faculties superior to those she 
normally possessed, with some writing in languages unknown tocher. 871 A. 
Mr. Junor Browne’s case. 

872. Writing by a young child who had no knowledge of her letters. 
872 A. Mr. Hempstead’s case. 

873. A series of writings by Mr. W., with indications of subliminal telacs- 
thesia, and telepathy both from the living and from the dead. 873 A. Another 
experience of Mr- W.’s, 

874. A prediction given through table-tilting of the precise date of a death* 
874 A, Dr. Suddick's case. 

875. Example pointing to continued terrene knowledge on the part of a 
decca.sed person ; case of Mrs. von Wiesclcr. 

876. A test me.s.sage planned before death and communicated afterwards; 
case of Mrs. Finney. 876 A. Case of Prince Emile Wittgenstein ; mes.sage 
about missing will. 876 B. Dr. Knorr’s case: message about missing note* 

877. Desirability of planning beforehand communications to be made after 
death as a test of personal identity. 877 A. Note on posthumous letters. 

878- The evidence as to motor phenomena here set forth confirms and 
extends the conceptions to which the cognate sensory phenomena pointed • 
the expansion of normal leading on to the development of supernormal 
faculties. The motor phenomena suggest more strongly than the sensory the 
hypothesis of ** psychical invasion,” which, if sufficiently prolonged, becomes 
a persistent control” or “possession.” 

879. When the subliminal self is affected by a telepathic impact which 
works itself out by automatic movements, it becomes a question whether the 
movements are executed by the subliminal self or by the external agent, 

880. This lead.s us on to the problem to be discu.s.sed in the next chapter; 
— in what ways may two spirits co-operate in the posso.ssion and control of the 
same organism ? 


CHAPTER IX 

TRANCE, POSSESSION, AND ECSTASY 

900. Possession may be defined as a development of Motor Automatlsmf 
resulting at last in a suhstUutient of personality ; there has recently been a great 
advance in the evidence for this theory. 



CHAPTER IX 


XV 


901. Further, it coheres with modern notions of personality, —of the control 
of organism by spirit. It implies that the spirit of the entranced automatist 
partially quits his organism, and allows an invading spirit to occupy and use it. 

902. The conception — similar as it is to primitive beliefs — will be found to 
co-ordinate and explain many of our earlier groups of phenomena. 

903. First, the alternating use of brain-centres by alternate personalities 
seems to form a link in the series which ends in possession. 

904r. Genius suggests a possession of the brain-centres by the subliminal 
self. 

905. In sleep it appears that the spirit may sometimes travel away from 
the body and perceive distant scenes clairvoyantly. 

906. In the hypnotic trance or in spontaneous somnambulism, we often find 
a quasi-personality occupying the organism, while the sensitive’s own spirit 
often claims to have been absent elsewhere, and sometimes exhibits real clair- 
voyant power. Telepathic intercourse, if carried far enough, corresponds to 
possession or to ecstasy. 

907. In telepathy we encounter an influence which suggests an intelligent 
and responsive external presence, and telepathy between the living leads on to 
telepathy from the dead; which implies that the communication does not 
depend on vibrations from a material brain. 

908. When motor automatism develops into possession, there is apparently 
no communication between the discarnate mind and the mind of the auto- 
matist, but rather with the latter's brain. 

909. Even in ordinary cases of telepathy, the percipient^s brain may some- 
times be influenced by his own mind, and sometimes directly by the agent's ; 
in the latter case, the influence may be termed telergic. Veridical apparitions 
also show traces of the spiritual and the physical elements mingling in various 
degrees as we pass from clairvoyant visions to collective apparitions. 

910. The same stages are to be seen in the case of apparitions of the 

dead— leading up to complete possession of the automatisfs brain by an 
extraneous spirit. \ 

911. Possession by spirits is difficult to distinguish from cases of secondary 
personality, where the organism is controlled by another synthesis of its own 
spirit. We must not ascribe to spirit-control cases where no new knowledge is 
shown in the trance state. 

912. In reputed savage cases of possession, the hostility of the control to 
the automatist is no proof of its being other than a secondary personality. 
912 A. Dr. Nevius on demon possession in China. 

913. It is sometimes claimed that these controls show supernormal know- 
ledge, but the cases recorded may generally be explained by heightened 
memory, with possible traces of telepathy. In cases where there is good 
evidence of supernormal knowledge, the controls have always been both human 
and friendly. 

914. We should expect spirit-control to be subject to the same limits that 
we find in controls by secondary personalities ; e.g, the external spirit is not 
likely to be able to produce utterance in a language unknown to the 
automatist. 

915. In both cases, and also in dreams, memory seems to fail and change 
in a capricious way. 

916. Again, it is hard to get into continuous colloquy with a somnambulist, 



XVI 


SYLLABUSES 


who generally follows his own train of ideas, and similar difficulties seem to 
occur in conversing with spirit-controls. 

917, Our expectations will thus be very different from the commonplace or 
even the poetic notion of what communication with the dead is likely to be. 

9ia The actual phenomena fail to comply either with the orthodox or 
traditional line of expectation, or with romantic anticipations, or with the 
notion that they should subserve some practical purpose. 

919. The problems of possession, on the other hand, form the natural 
sequence of our earlier problems ; the actions of the posse.ssed organism 
show the furthest stage of motor automatism; the incursion of the possessing 
spirit is the complelest form of telepathic invasion. 

920. We must now briefly consider the relation of spiritual influences to 
the world of matter. In some telergic cases, it appears that the agent’s spirit 
acts directly on the percipient’s brain. 

921. In cases of possession, it is possible that the controlling spirit may 
impel the organism to more forcible movements than its usual ones. 

922. It may also be able to use the organism more skilfully and emit 
from it an energy which can move objects not in contact with it ; this pheno- 
menon is termed by Aksakoff telekinesis, 

923. The interest excited in the ordinary public by the ‘‘physical pheno- 
mena of spiritualism,” or telekinesis, ha.s, as is well known, fostered much fraud, 
to expose and guaixl against which has been one of the main tasks of the 
S.P.R. 923 A, References to exposures of Madame Blavatsky. 923 B. 
References to exposures of other spiritualistic frauds. 

924. In this work, telekine.sis is only dealt with where it appears as an 
element in spirit-possession, especially in the cases of D. D. Home and Stainton 
Moses. 

925. Telekinesis may begin as a form of automatism, initiated by the .sub- 
liminal self, and there may occasionally, though not prova!)Iy, be an element of 
it in table-tilting or automatic writing. This may develop into raps or into 
movements of distant objects, 925 A. Case of Mr. Vaughan. 

926- The right comprehension of telekinetic phenomena miwt depend on 
a knowledge greater than we at present possess of the relations between 
matter and ether, A tentative sketch of what may be done by future inquiries 
is given in a “ Scheme of Vital Faculty ” (926 A). 926 B. Reference.^ to 
accounts of telekinetic cases. 

927. Sporadic cases of ecstacy or possession seem not infrequent in some 
private circles. 927 A. Mr. O.’s case. Cases of; 927 B. Miss White; 
927 C. Miss Lottie Fowler. 

928. All such cases are difficult to classify precisely, but the more de- 
veloped forms of po.ssessi<)n throw light on the more rudimentary onc.s. 

929. The most rudimentary form .seems to be a momentary possession by 

the subliminal self : ca.se of Mr.s. I-uther. 

930. Or there may be a brief psychical excursion in which some know- 

ledge is gained and uttered automatically by the subliminal self : case of 

Professor Thoulet, 

93X. The next case— that of Mr. Goodall— .suggests a kind of telepathic 
conversation between the subliminal seif, controlling tl^e utterance of the 
sleeper, and some perhaps discarnatc spirit, 

932. The next— Mr. Wilkie’s— is a miniature case of possession. 



CHAPTER IX 


xvii 


933. These cases illustrate the development of the incipient stages of 
trance into ecstacy or possession, the control in different cases being by the 
incarnate or by the discarnate spirit, or by a combination of the two. 

934. In one form of trance the automatist is completely controlled by his 
own subliminal self or incarnate spirit; e.g, 934 A. case of Mr. Sanders. 

935. In the famous case of Swedenborg, on the other hand, direct inter- 
course during ecstasy with discarnate spirits was claimed. 

936. Swedenborg’s personal experiences are in accord with those described 
— apparently independently— by other sensitives since his time ; on the other 
hand, his dogmatic writings have been discredited by later knowledge. 
936 A. Kant on Swedenborg. 936 B. The Seeress of Prevorst. 936 C. Case 
of Mr. Skilton. 

937. Cahagnet’s subject, Adhlt Maginot, was also apparently, when in 
trance, controlled by her own subliminal self. 937 A. Mr. Podmore’s account 
of this case. 

938. In the case of D. D. Home telekinetic phenomena are alleged, as 
well as trance manifestations. 938 A. References to information about Home. 
938 B. Review of Mme. Home’s Li/e of Home. 

939. Home’s trances varied a good deal on difiEerent occasions. 

940. Comparison of the trance-manifestations of Home with those of 
Moses and of Mrs. Piper. 

941. In the case of Moses, as in that of Home, the telekinetic phenomena 
formed an integral part of the general manifestations, but were regarded by 
him as merely subsidiary to the religious teachings of his “ controls.” 

942. This ethical preoccupation was natural to his character and time. 

943. His relation to the S.P.R. 943 A. References to printed records 
of his phenomena, and biography. 

944. The two series of phenomena — ^physical and trance — were intimately 
connected in his case, and purported to be produced by the same alleged 
discarnate spirits. 

945. These belonged to three classes: (a) persons recently dead; (p) 
distinguished persons of past generations ; (c) more distinguished and more 
remote persons, who called themselves by pseudonyms, eg. “ Imperator.” 

946. General account of Moses’ automatic writings. 946 A. His descrip- 
tion of the process of writing. 

947. The evidence for the identity of the remote spirits is very dubious. 
947 A. Case of Rector’s copying from a closed book. 

948. Possible explanation of some of the cases by subliminal observation 
and memory. 948 A. Cases from “ Spirit Identity.” 948 B. Other cases of 
veridical communications, 

949. Case of “ Blanche Abercromby,” in which a recent death — unknown 
normally to Moses— -was announced by his automatic writing, some of which 
was alleged to have a close resemblance to hers. 

950. Discussion of the possible or alleged functions of the remote controls, 

951. Classification of messages according to their evidential quality. 

952. In some of Moses’ cases, the messages were accompanied by appari- 
tions or by telekinetic phenomena. 

953. In the case of Mrs. Piper, the verbal messages from persons recently 
dead are of much greater evidential value ; she is also alleged to be controlled 
by the ** Imperator ” group. 

VOL. It. 


& 



xviii SYLLABUSES 

954. Her case dijEEers from those of Home and Moses in presenting no 
telekinetic phenomena, and in the fact that she shows no supernormal powers 
except when in trance. 

955. Brief history of the case. 

956. The hypothesis of fraud, 956 A. Report by Professor James. 
956 B. Report by the present writer. 

957. Discussion of the personality of “ Phinuit.” 957 A. Description by 
Professor Lodge. 

958. During the dominance of the “ Phinuit ’* control, the evidence for the 
personal identity of the alleged communicators was generally slight. 

959. In the next stage — ^that of the “ G. P.^' control — the evidence greatly 
improved. 959 A. Mr, Hart’s sitting. 959 B. Mr. and Mrs. Howard’s 
sitting. 959 C. Communications from Mr. Hart. 

960. Instance of correct information, unknown to the sitter, being given. 
960 A. Communications from Elisa Manners. 

961. Case of attempt to write Hawaiian : Mr. Briggs’ sitting. 

962. Communications from young children: Mrs. Sutton’s sitting. 962 A. 
Dr. and Mrs. Thaw’s sittings. 

963. The discarnate spirits seem occasionally to manifest powers of retro- 
cognitive telaesthesia and of precognition. 963 A. Predictions given through 
Mrs. Piper. 

964. In the last stages of Mrs. Piper’s trance manifestations, the chief 
controls purport to be those of Mr. Moses—the Tmperator group-— but there is 
no proof so far of their identity. 

965. Trance communications from discarnate .spirits must be influenced 
both by the subliminal self and by the organism of the medium, and perhaps 
may be impaired by limitations in the powers of the spirits. 

966. Possession appears to have no injurious effect on the medium, but 
rather the reverse. 

967. Coming to the part played by the spirit, it seems as far removed from 
modern philosophical as from ancient savage conceptions. 

968. The personal identity of a spirit must connote memory and character. 

969. The communications indicate some cognisance of space and time, 
and some knowledge both of the thoughts and emotions of survivors and of 
material facts, 

970. Consideration of the possible difficulties of communicating on the 
part of the communicators. 

971. They are such as might be inferred from the analogies between 
possession and alternating personalities, dreams, and somnambulism. 

972. The relations between mind and brain may be elucidated by the 
difficulties shown by the spirit in using the medium’s brain. 

973. The spirits sometimes appear more eager to communicate than the 
sitters are to receive communications. 

974. Conclusions which may be drawn from the phenomena recorded. 

975. One obstacle to our inquiry has been the apparent want of dignity 
in this mode of acquiring knowledge ; hut the apparently trivial experiments 
and observations have led to generalisations of immense importance. 

976. Further discussion of ecstasy. 

977. It is a phenomenon common to all religions, and hence of special 
importance from a psychological point of view. 

978. We must now deal briefly with the subject of retrocognition and 



CHAPTER X 


XIX 


precognition; these suggest powers even more remote than telepathy or 
telsesthesia from ordinary methods of acquiring knowledge. 

979. Retrocognition begins with hypermnesia, leading on to cases where 
the knowledge seems to come from the memories of other minds, embodied or 
disembodied, or from a direct perception of the cosmic record. 

980. Precognition, starting from promnesia, leads on through self-sugges- 
tion and organic prevision, gradually involving more and more of the 
percipient’s environment, as well as of his own history; but may even then 
be regarded as the result of the wider outlook of the subliminal self. 980 A. 
Case of Signorina Manzini. 

981. Some precognitions, however, may be due to the reasoned foresight of 
disembodied spirits; and some may possibly be derived from spirits higher 
than human, or from a sphere where our conception of time no longer holds. 

982. Discussion of the evolution of retrocognition from memory. 

983. The various stages of precognition: hyperaesthesia, peripheral or 
central. 

984. The wider knowledge of the subliminal self; sometimes transmitted 
telepathically to others, or itself derived from disembodied spirits. 

985. Direct foreknowledge of the future; the relation 6f this possibility 
to the problem of Free Will. 

986. The conception of Time, as has often been suggested, may be purely 
subjective. 

987. Our evidence seems to indicate that the spiritual world is now just 
beginning to act systematically upon the material world. 

988. The faintness and incoherence of the messages seem an evidence 
of effort on tlie part of the communicators ; but to solve the mystery fully will 
require the labours of many generations. 


CHAPTER X 

EPILOGUE 

1000. Some attempt to place these new discoveries in clearer relation to 
existing schemes of civilised thought and belief is needful for the practical 
purpose of enlisting help in our inquiry, which has hitherto suffered from 
indifference rather than from opposition. 

1001. The influence of the evidence set forth in this book should prompt 
towards the ultimate achievement of scientific dominance in every department 
of human study, including— as never before — ^the realm of “ divine things.” 

1002. The present age is marked by a deep and widespread dissatisfaction, 
by a decline of any real belief in the worth of life. A similar crisis which 
passed over Europe once before was dissipated by the rise of Christianity. 

1003. In our age the scientific instinct must be satisfied equally with the 
religious; any scheme of knowledge to commend itself to our descendants 
must be one which, while it transcends our present knowledge, steadily continues 
it. It is only now that this principle is beginning to be applied to the 
spiritual world. 

1004. The conception of Telepathy is seen gradually to enlarge and deepen, 
proving to us at last that the kinship between souls is more fundamental than 
their separation. 



XX 


SYLLABUSES 


1005. Let us suppose that whilst incarnate men have risen from savagery 
into intelligence, discarnate men have become more eager and more able to 
communicate with earth. Sporadic instances of such communication have 
always occurred ; but the newer scientific temper-demanding not miracles, 
but a higher law— is not perhaps confined to this earth alone. 

1006. Actual increase of our knowledge of the spiritual world, both by 
discovery and by revelation, is rendering possible a religious synthesis less 
incomplete than any which has been attained until now. 

1007. By a religious synthesis I mean a co-ordination and development 
of all such response of the human spirit to Cosmic Law as has risen above 
mere egoism or revolt into co-operation and worship. 

1008. I hold that this enthusiasm of response is morally incumbent on us ; 
since, even though the Cosmos appears imperfect, it may be destined to attain 
perfection partly through our own work and faith. 

1009. The response actually made in the past by human spirits of high type 
has been, on the whole, concordant in recognising that a spiritual world under- 
lies the material. The two leading World-Religions have developed different 
sides of this obscure philosophic consensus. Eastern contemplation has dwelt 
on the vastness of the spirit’s ascent up infinite degrees of Being, to be merged 
at last in an impersonal AIL Western worship has based on Jesus Christ’s 
Resurrection the belief that the soul .survives bodily death, and on His Revela- 
tion the belief that the world is spiritual and is ruled by Love. 

1010. This dim and imperfect agreement is now supplemented liy nascent 
discovery and revelation. From the discovery of telepathy we learn that a 
direct communication passes between incarnate spirits, and from discarnate 
spirits to incarnate. From the revelation contained in tliese mes8age.s from 
discarnate spirits, we learn in direct fashion what philosophy had suspected, - 
the existence and influence of a spiritual world. 

1011. Our new knowledge, confirming ancient streams of thought, corrobo- 
rates analogically for Christianity the record of Christ’s appearances after 
death, and hints at the possibility of the beneficent incarnation of souls 
previously on a level higher than man’s, 

1012. Passing on to the further future, it confirms for Buddhism the con- 
ception of an endless spiritual evolution, which the whole Cosmos sul)serves. 

1013. And meantime, by its actual and ever-growing reality, the nascent 
communion with enfranchised spirits offers both immediate sustenance and 
endless development, 

1014. That development must be an increase in holiness ; an intensified 
interpenetration both of worlds and of souls ; an evolution of Energy into 
Life, and of Life into the threefold conception of Wisdom, Love, and Jo}% 

1015. This process, effected for each several soul in different fashion, is 
in itself continuous and cosmic ; all Life is developing itself from the primal 
Energy, and divinising itself into the ultimate Joy. 

Appendix A. The Function of a Society for Psychical Research. 

Appendix B. The Decline of Dogmatism. 

Appendix C. Prayer and Supplication. 



700] 


CHAPTER VII 

PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 

OVKCTL 7rpO<T(0 

dpdrav dXa /cidvcoy vTrep ‘HpaicX^s Trcpav €Vju.ape9« 

. . , 6vfx€, rCva TTpbq oXXoSairdv 
aKpav ifjibv 'JtXoov Trapa^ct^cat; 

— Pindar. 

700. The course of our argument has gradually conducted us to 
a point of capital importance. A profound and central question, 
approached in irregular fashion from time to time in previous chapters, 
must now be directly faced. From the actions and perceptions of 
spirits still in the flesh, and concerned with one another, we must pass 
on to inquire into the actions of spirits no longer in the flesh, and 
into the forms of perception with which men still in the flesh respond 
to that unfamiliar and mysterious agency. 

There need, I hope, be no real break here in my previous line of 
argument. The subliminal self, which we have already traced through 
various phases of growing sensitivity, growing independence of organic 
bonds, will now be studied as sensitive to yet remoter influences; — as 
maintaining an independent existence even when the organism is de- 
stroyed. Our subject will divide itself conveniently under three main heads. 
Firsif, it will be well to discuss briefly the nature of the evidence to man’s 
survival of death which may theoretically be obtainable, and its possible 
connections with evidence set forth in previous chapters. Secondly ^ — and 
this must form the bulk of the present chapter, — we need a classified 
exposition of the main evidence to survival thus far obtained; — so far, 
that is to say, as sensory automatism — audition or apparition — is con- 
cerned ; for motor automatism — automatic writing and trance-utterance — 
must be left for later discussion. Thirdly, there will be need of some 
consideration of the meaning of this evidence as a whole, and of its 
implications alike for the scientific and for the ethical future of mankind. 
Much more, indeed, of discussion (as well as of evidence) than I can 
furnish will be needed before this great conception can be realised or 
argued from with the scientific thoroughness due to its position among 
fundamental cosmical laws. Considering how familiar the notion — the 
vague shadowy notion — of “immortality ” has always been, it is strange 
vot. n. A 



2 


CHAPTER VII 


[701 


indeed that so little should have been done in these modem days to 
grasp or to criticise it ; — so little, one might almost say, since the Fhaedo 
of Plato. 

701. Beginning, then, with the inquiry as to what kind of evidence 
ought to be demanded for human survival, we are met first by the bluff 
statement which is still often uttered even by intelligent men, that no 
evidence would convince them of such a fact ; neither would they be 
persuaded though one rose from the dead.” 

Extravagant as such a profession sounds, it has a meaning which 
we shall do well to note. These resolute antagonists mean that no new 
evidence can carry conviction to them unless it be continuous with old 
evidence ; and that they cannot conceive that evidence to a world of 
spirit can possibly be continuous with evidence based upon our experi- 
ence of a world of matter. I agree with this demand for continuity; 
and I agree also that the claims usually advanced for a spiritual world 
have not only made no attempt at continuity with known fact, but have 
even ostentatiously thrown such continuity to the winds. The popullr 
mind has expressly desired something startling, something outside l^w 
and above Nature. It has loved, if not a Credo quia ahsurdum, at least 
a Credo quia non prohaium. But the inevitable retribution is a deep 
insecurity in the conviction thus attained. Unsupported by the general 
fabric of knowledge, the act of faith seems to shrink into the background 
as that great fabric stands and grows. 

I can hardly too often repeat that my object in these pages Is of a 
quite opposite character. Believing that all cognisable Mind is as con- 
tinuous as all cognisable Matter, my ideal would be to attempt for the 
realm of mind what the spectroscope and the law of gravitation have 
effected for the realm of matter, and to carry that known cosmic uni- 
formity of substance and interaction upwards among the essences and 
operations of an unknown spiritual world. And in order to explore 
these unreachable altitudes I would not ask to stand with the theologian 
on the summit of a cloud-capt tower,” but rather on plain earth at the 
measured base of a trigonometrical survey. 

702. If we would measure such a base, the jungle must be cleared 
to begin with. Let us move for a while among first definitions ; trying 
to make clear to ourselves what kind of thing it is that we are endeavour- 
ing to trace or discover. In popular parlance, we arc looking out for 
ghosts. What connotation, then, are we to give to the word ** ghost a 
word which has embodied so many unfounded theories and causeless 
fears? It would be more satisfactory, in the present state of our know- 
ledge, simply to collect facts without offering speculative comment. But 
it seems safer to begin by briefly pointing out the manifest errors of the 
traditional view; since that tradition, if left unnoticed, would remain 
lodged in the background even of many minds which have never really 
accepted it. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


702] 


3 


Briefly, then, the popular view regards a ghost” as a deceased 
person permitted by Providence to hold communication with survivors. 
And this short definition contains, I think, at least three unwarrantable 
assumptions. 

In the first place, such words as permission and Providence are simply 
neither more nor less applicable to this phenomenon than to any other. 
We conceive that all phenomena alike take place in accordance with the 
laws of the universe, and consequently by permission of the Supreme 
Power in the universe. Undoubtedly the phenomena with which we are 
dealing are in this sense permitted to occur. But there is no a priori 
reason whatever for assuming that they are permitted in any especial sense 
of their own, or that they form exceptions to law, instead of being ex- 
emplifications of law. Nor is there any a posteriori reason for supposing 
any such inference to be deducible from a study of the phenomena 
themselves. If we attempt to find in these phenomena any poetical 
justice or manifest adaptation to human cravings, we shall "be just as 
much disappointed as if we endeavoured to find a similar satisfaction in 
the ordinary course of terrene history. 

In the second place, we have no warrant for the assumption that the 
phantom seen, even though it be somehow caused by a deceased person, 
is that deceased person, in any ordinary sense of the word. Instead of 
appealing to the crude analogy of the living friend who, when he has 
walked into the room, is in the room, we shall find for the ghost a much 
closer parallel in those hallucinatory figures or phantasms which living 
persons can sometimes project at a distance. When Mr. Kirk, for in- 
stance, caused by an effort of will an apparition of himself to a waking per- 
cipient out of sight (see 668 B), he was himself awake and conscious in 
the place where, not his phantom, but his body, stood. Whatever, then, 
that phantom was — however generated or conditioned — ^we cannot say 
that it was himself. And equally unjustifiable must be the common 
parlance which speaks of the ghost as though it were the deceased person 
himself — a revenani coming back amongst living men. 

All this, of course, will be already familiar to most of my readers, and 
only needs repetition here because experience shows that when — as with 
these post-mortem phantoms — the deceased person has gone well out of 
sight or reach there is a fresh tendency, so to say, to anthropomorphose 
the apparition ; to suppose that, as the deceased person is not provably 
anywhere else, he is probably here ; and that the apparition is bound to 
behave accordingly. All such assumptions must be dismissed, and the 
phantom must be taken on its merits, as indicating merely a certain 
connection with the deceased, the precise nature of that connection 
being a part of the problem to be solved. 

And in the third place, just as we must cease to say that the phantom is 
the deceased, so also must we cease to ascribe to the phantom the motives 
by which we imagine that the deceased might be swayed. We must 



4 


CHAPTER VII 


[703 

therefore exclude from our definition of a ghost any words which assume 
its intention to communicate with the living. It may bear such a relation 
to the deceased that it can reflect or represent his presumed wish to 
communicate, or it may not. If, for instance, its relation to his post- 
piortefn life be like the relation of my dreams to my earthly life, it may 
represent little that is truly his, save such vague memories and instincts 
as give a dim individuality to each man’s trivial dreams. 

703. Let us attempt, then, a truer definition. Instead of describing 
a ghost ” as a dead person permitted to communicate with the living, 
let us define it as a manifestaiion of persistent personal energy, or as an 
indication that some kind of force is being exercised after death which is 
in some way connected with a person previously known on earth. In this 
definition we have eliminated, as will be seen, a great mass of popular 
assumptions. Yet we must introduce a further proviso, lest our definition 
still seem to imply an assumption which we have no right to make. It 
is theoretically possible that this force or influence, which after a man’s 
death creates a phantasmal impression of him, may indicate no con- 
tinuing action on his part, but may be some residue of the force or 
energy which he generated while yet alive. There may be veridical after- 
images — such as Gurney hints at {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 4 x 7 ) 
when in his comments on the recurring figure of an old woman — seen on 
the bed where she was murdered — he remarks that this figure suggests 
not so much any continuing local interest on the part of the deceased 
person, as the survival of a mere image, impressed, we cannot guess how, 
on we cannot guess what, by that person’s physical organism, and per- 
ceptible at times to those endowed with some cognate form of sensitive- 
ness.” (I quote the case referred to in 733 B, and a second similar one 
in 745 B.) 

Strange as this notion may seem, it is strongly suggested by many 
of the cases of haunting which are referred to later in this chapter. 
We shall presently find (see 745-751) that there is strong evidence 
for the recurrence of the same hallucinatory figures in the same 
localities, but weak evidence to indicate any purpose in most of these 
figures, or any "connection with bygone individuals, or with such trage- 
dies as are popularly supposed to start a ghost on its career. In 
some of these cases of frequent, meaningless recurrence of a figure in a 
given spot, we are driven to wonder whether it can be some deceased 
person’s past frequentation of that spot, rather than any fresh action of 
his after death, which has generated what I have termed the veridical 
after-image— veridical in the sense that it communicates ixjfortnation, 
previously unknown to the percipient, as to a former ixxhabitant of the 
haunted locality. 

Such are some of the questions which our evidence suggests. And I 
may point out that the very fact that such bizarre problems should present 
themselves at every turn does in a certain sense tend to show that these 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


5 


704] 

apparitions are not purely subjective things, — do not originate merely in 
the percipient's imagination. For they^re not like what any man would 
have imagined* What man’s mind does tend to fancy on such topics 
may be seen in the endless crop of fictitious ghost stories, which furnish, 
indeed, a curious proof of the persistence of preconceived notions. For 
they go on being framed according to canons of their own, and deal with 
a set of imaginary phenomena quite different from those which actually 
occur. The actual phenomena, I may add, could scarcely be made 
romantic. One true ghost story ” is apt to be very like another, and 
most of them to be fragmentary and apparently meaningless. Their 
meaning, that is to say, lies in their conformity, not to the mythopoeic 
instinct of mankind, which fabricates and enjoys the fictitious tales, but 
to some unknown law, not based on human sentiment or convenience 
at all. 

And thus, absurdly enough, we sometimes hear men ridicule the 
phenomena which actually do happen, simply because those phenomena 
do not suit their preconceived notions of what ghostly phenomena ought 
to be ; — not perceiving that this very divergence, this very unexpectedness, 
is in itself no slight indication of an origin outside the minds which 
obviously were so far from anticipating anything of the kind. 

704. And in fact the very qualities which are most apt to raise deri- 
sion are such as the evidence set forth in the earlier chapters of this work 
might reasonably lead us to expect. For I hold that now for the first time 
can we form a conception of ghostly communications which shall in any 
way consist or cohere with more established conceptions ; which can be 
presented as in any way a development of facts which are already experi- 
mentally known. Two preliminary conceptions were needed — conceptions 
in one sense ancient enough ; but yet the first of which has only in this 
generation found its place in science, while the second is as yet awaiting 
its brevet of orthodoxy. The first conception is that with which hypnotism 
and various automatisms have familiarised us, — ^the conception of multiplex 
personality, of the potential co-existence of many states and many memories 
in the same individual. The second is the conception .of telepathy ; of 
the action of mind on mind apart from the ordinary organs of sense ; and 
especially of its action by means of hallucinations ; — ^by the generation of 
veridical phantasms which form, as it were, messages from men still in the 
flesh. And I believe that these two conceptions are in this way connected, 
that the telepathic message generally starts from, and generally impinges 
upon, a subconscious or submerged stratum in both agent and percipient.^ 
Wherever there is hallucination, whether delusive or veridical, I hold 
that a message of some sort is forcing its way upwards from one stratum 
of personality to another, — a message which may be merely dreamlike and 
incoherent, or which may symbolise a fact otherwise unreachable by the 
percipient personality. And the mechanism seems much the same whether 
1 See Phantasms of the vol. i. p. 231. 



6 CHAPTER VII [704 

the message’s path be continued within one individual or pass between 
two ; whether As own submerged self be signalling to his emergent self 
or B be telepathically stimulating the hidden fountains of perception in A, 
If anything like this be true, it seems plainly needful that all that we know 
of abnormal or supernormal communications between minds, or states of 
the same mind, still embodied in flesh, should be searched for analogies 
which may throw light on this strangest mode of intercourse between 
embodied and disembodied minds. Our steps on this uncertain ground 
must needs be short and wavering. But they may help to mark the right 
direction for future inquiry, and to dispel certain vulgar preconceptions 
which can only mislead. 

A communication (if such a thing exists) from a departed person to a 
person still on earth is, at any rate, a communication from a mind in one 
state of existence to a mind in a very different state of existence. And it 
is, moreover, a communication from one mind to another which passes 
through some channel other than the ordinary channels of sense, since 
on one side of the gulf no material sense-organs exist. It will apparently 
be an extreme instance of both these classes — of communications between 
state and state, ^ and of telepathic communications ; and we ought, there- 
fore, to approach it by considering the less advanced cases of both these 
types. 

On what occasions do we commonly find a mind conversing with 
another mind not on the same plane with itself? — with a mind inhabiting 
in some sense a different world, and viewing the environment with a 
difference of outlook greater than the mere difference of character of the 
two personages will account for? 

The first instance of this sort which will occur to us lies in spon- 
taneous somnambulism, or colloquy between a person asleep and a 
person awake. And observe here how slight an accident allows us to 
enter into converse with a state which at first sight seems a type of incom- 
municable isolation. Awake, we share our world,” runs the old saying, 
'*but each dreamer inhabits a world of his own.” Yet the dreamer, 
apparently so self-enclosed, may be gently led, or will spontaneously enter, 
into converse with waking men. 

The somnambulist, or rather the somniloquist — for it is the talking 
rather than the walking which is the gist of the matter — is thus our first 
natural type of the revenanL 

And observing the habits of somnambulists, we note that the degree in 
which they can communicate with other minds varies greatly in different 

1 Some word is much needed to express communications between one state and 
another, between the somnambulic and the waking state, or» in hypnotism, the 
cataleptic and the somnambuJic, See, The word '*methectic” (/xM0«fcTtkh) seems to me 
the most suitable, especially since happens to be the word used by Plato (Parm. 
13 a D.) for participation between ideas and concrete objects. Or the word ** inter-state ** 
might be pressed into this new duty. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


7 


705] 

cases. One sleep-waker will go about his customary avocations without 
recognising the presence of any other person whatever; another will 
recognise certain persons only, or will answer when addressed, but only 
on certain subjects, his mind coming into contact with other minds 
only on a very few points. Rarely or never will a somnambulist spon- 
taneously notice what other persons are doing, and adapt his own actions 
thereto. 

Next let us turn from natural to induced sleep-waking, from idiopathic 
somnambulism to the hypnotic trance. Here, too, throughout the different 
stages of the trance, we find a varying and partial (or elective) power of 
communication. Sometimes the entranced subject makes no sign what- 
ever ; sometimes he seems able to hear and answer one person, or certain 
persons, and not others ; sometimes he will talk freely to all ; but, however 
freely he may talk, he is not exactly his waking self, and as a rule he has 
no recollection, or a very imperfect recollection, in waking life of what he 
has said or done in his trance. 

Judging, then, from such analogy as communications from one living 
state to another can suggest to us, we shall expect that the communication 
of a disembodied or discarnate person with an incarnate, if such exist, will 
be subject to narrow limitations, and very possibly will not form a part of 
the main current of the supposed discarnate consciousness. 

705. These preliminary considerations are applicable to any kind of 
alleged communication from the departed — whether well or ill evidenced ; 
whether conveyed in sensory or in motor form. 

Let us next consider what types of communication from the dead our 
existing evidence of communications among the living suggests to us 
as analogically possible. It appears to me that there is an important 
parallelism' running through each class of our experiments in automatism 
and each class of our spontaneous phenomena. Roughly speaking, we 
may say that our experiment and observation up to this point have 
comprised five different stages of phenomena, viz., (I.) hypnotic sugges- 
tion; (II.) telepathic experiments; (III.) spontaneous telepathy during 
life ; (IV.) phantasms at death ; (V.) phantasms after death. And we 
find, I think, that the same types of communication meet us at each 
stage ; so that this recurrent similarity of types raises a presumption that 
the underlying mechanism of manifestation at each stage may be in some 
way similar. 

Again using a mere rough form of division, we shall find three main 
forms of manifestation at each stage : (i) hallucinations of the senses ; (2) 
emotional and motor impulses ; (3) definite intellectual messages- 

(L) And first let us start from a class of experiments into which tele- 
pathy does not enter, but which exhibit in its simplest form the mechan- 
ism of the automatic transfer of messages from one stratum to another of 
the same personality. I speak, of course, of post-hypnotic suggestions. 
Here the agent is a living man, operating in an ordinary way, by direct 



8 CHAPTER VII [705 

speech. The unusual feature lies in the condition of the percipient, who 
is hypnotised at the time, and is thus undergoing a kind of dislocation of 
personality, or temporary upheaval of a habitually subjacent stratum of 
the self- This hypnotic personality, being for the time at the surface, 
receives the agent’s verbal suggestion, of which the percipient’s waking 
self is unaware. Then afterwards, when the waking self has resumed its 
usual upper position, the hypnotic self carries out at the stated time the 
given suggestion, — an act whose origin the upper stratum of consciousness 
does not know, but which is in effect a message communicated to the 
upper stratum from the now submerged or subconscious stratum on 
which the suggestion was originally impressed. 

And this message may take any one of the three leading forms men- 
tioned above ; — say a hallucinatory image of the hypnotiser or of some 
other person ; or an impulse to perform some action ; or a definite word 
or sentence to be written automatically by the waking self, which thus 
learns what order has been laid upon the hypnotic self while the waking 
consciousness was in abeyance. 

(IL) Now turn to our experiments in thought-transference. Here 
again the agent is a living man ; but he is no longer operating by ordinary 
means, — by spoken words or visible gestures. He is operating on the 
percipient’s subconscious self by means of a telepathic impulse, which he 
desires, indeed, to project from himself, and which the percipient may 
desire to receive, but of whose vwdus operandi the ordinary waking selves 
of agent and percipient alike are entirely unaware. 

Here again we may divide the messages sent into the same three main 
classes. First come the hallucinatory figures — always or almost always of 
himself— which the agent causes the percipient to see. Secondly come 
impulses to act, tclepathically impressed, as when the hypnotiser desires 
his subject to come to him at an hour not previously notified. And thirdly, 
we have a parallel to the post-hypnotic writing of definite words or 
figures in our own experiments on the direct telepathic transmission 
of words, figures, cards, &c,, from the agent, using no normal means of 
communication, to the percipient, either in the hypnotised or in the 
waking state. 

(HI.) We come next to the spontaneous phantasms occurring during 
life. Here we find the same three broad classes of messages, with this 
difference, that the actual apparitions, which in our telepathic experimen- 
tation are thus far unfortunately rare, become now the most important 
class. I need not recall the instances given in Chapters IV. and VI., 
&c., where an agent undergoing some sudden crisis seems in some way to 
generate an apparition of himself seen by a distant percipient* Important 
also in this connection are those apparitions of the double^ where some one 
agent (Mrs, Stone, Mrs. Beaumont, &c., see 645 B and 0), is seen re- 
peatedly in phantasmal form by different percipients at times when that 
agent is undergoing no special crisis. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


9 


706] 

Again, among our telepathic impressions generated (spontaneously, 
not experimentally) by living agents, we have cases, which I need not 
here recapitulate, of pervading sensations of distress ; or impulses to return 
home (see, the case of Mr. Skirving in 825 A), which are parallel to 
the hypnotised subject's impulse to approach his distant hypnotiser, at a 
moment when that hypnotiser is willing him to do so. 

And thirdly, among these telepathic communications from the living 
to the living, we have definite sentences automatically written, communi- 
cating facts which the distant person knows, but is not consciously 
endeavouring to transmit. 

(IV.) Passing on to phantasms which cluster about the moment of 
death, we find our three main classes of cases still meeting us. Our 
readers are familiar with the visual cases, where there is an actual appari- 
tion of the dying man, seen by one or more persons ; and also with the 
emoUonal and motor cases, where the impression, although powerful, is 
not definitely sensory in character. And various cases also have been 
published where the message has consisted of definite words, not always 
externalised as an auditory hallucination, but sometimes automatically 
uttered or automatically written by the percipient himself, as in the case 
communicated by Dr. Li^beault (see section 866), where a girl writes 
the message announcing her friend's death at the time when that friend is, 
in fact, dying in a distant city. 

706. (V.) And now I maintain that in these post-mortem cases also 

we find the same general classes persisting, and in somewhat the same 
proportion. Most conspicuous are the actual apparitions, with which, 
indeed, the following pages will mainly deal. It is very rare to find an 
apparition which seems to impart any verbal message ; but a case of 
this kind has been given in 429 E. As a rule, however, the apparition 
is of the apparently automatic, purposeless character, already so fully 
described. We have also the emotional and motor class of post-mortem 
cases (as Mr. Cameron Grant's, given in 736 B) \ and these may, perhaps, 
be more numerous in proportion than our collection would indicate; 
for it is obvious that impressions which are so much less definite than 
a visual hallucination (although they may be even more impressive to 
the percipient himself) can rarely be used as evidence of communication 
with the departed. 

But now I wish to point out that, besides these two classes of post- 
mortem manifestations, we have our third class also still persisting ; we 
have definite verbal messages which at least purport, and sometimes, I 
think, with strong probability, to come from the departed. 

I have, indeed, for the reader’s convenience, postponed these motor 
cases to a subsequent chapter, so that the evidence here and now pre- 
sented for survival will be very incomplete. Yet, at any rate, we are 
gradually getting before us a fairly definite task. We have in this 
chapter to record and analyse such sensory experiences of living men 



lo CHAPTER VII [707 

as seem referable to the action of some human individuality persisting 
after death. We have also obtained some preliminary notion as to the 
kind of phenomena for which we can hope, especially as to what their 
probable limitations must be, considering how great a gulf between 
psychical states any communication must overpass. 

707 . Let us now press the actual evidential question somewhat 
closer. Let us consider, for it is by no means evident at first sight, 
what conditions a visual or auditory phantasm is bound to fulfil before it 
can be regarded as indicating prima facie the influence of a discarnate 
mind. The discussion may be best introduced by quoting the words in 
which Edmund Gurney opened it in 1888.1 The main evidential line.s as 
there laid down retain their validity, although the years which have since 
passed have greatly augmented the testimony, and in so doing have illus- 
trated yet other tests of true post-mortem communication, — to which we 
shall presently come. 

Those who have followed the records and discussions printed in the Pro- 
ceedings and the Jonrfial of this Society will not need to be informed how little 
the evidence which has not infrequently led even educated persons to believe 
in the actual reappearance of dead friends really justifies any such belief. The 
reason can be given in a single sentence. In most of the case.s where persons 
have professed to have seen or to have held communication with deceased 
friends and relatives, there is nothing to distinguish the phenomenon which 
their senses have encountered from purely subjective hallucination. Simple as 
thi.s statement seems, the truth which it embodies remained for centurie.s un- 
guessed. It is only in comparatively modern days tliat the fact.s of soiisory 
hallucination have been at all understood, and that the extreme definiteness 
which the delusive object may take has been recognised ; and even now the 
truth of the matter has not had time to penetrate to the popular mind. The 
reply of average common scn.se to any account of an apparition is usually either 
that the witness is lying or grossly exaggerating, or that he was mad or drunk 
or emotionally excited at the time ; or at the very most that his experience was 
an illu.sion— a misinterpretation of some sight or sound which was of an entirely 
objective kind. A very little careful study of the subject will, however, .show 
that all these hypotheses must of ten be rejected; that, the witnes.s may be in good 
health, and in no exceptional state of nervousness or excitement, and that what 
he sees or hears may still be of purely subjective origin— the projection of his 
own brain. And among the objects thus fictitiously presented, it is only natural 
to expect tiiat a certain percentage will take the form of a human figure or 
voice which the percipient recognises as that of a deceased person ; for the 
memory of such figures and voices is part of his mental store, and the latent 
images are ready to supply the material of waking hallucination, just aw they 
are ready to supply the material of dream. 

It is further evident that in alleged cases of apparitions of the dead, the 
point which we have held to distinguish certain apparition.s of living persons 
from purely subjective hallucinations is necessarily lacking. That point is 
coincidence between the apparition and some critical or exceptional contlition 
of the person who seems to appear ; but with regard to the dead, we have no 

I Prcaetihtgs S.P.R , vol v. pp, 403-408, 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


ir 


707 ] 

independent knowledge of their condition, and therefore never have the oppor- 
tunity of observing any such coincidences. 

There remain three, and I think only three, conditions which might estab- 
lish a presumption that an apparition or other immediate manifestation^ of a 
dead person is something more than a mere subjective hallucination of the per- 
cipient’s senses. Either (i) more persons than one might be independently 
affected by the phenomenon ; or (2) the phantasm might convey information, 
afterwards discovered to be true, of something which the percipient had never 
known ; or (3) the appearance might be that of a person whom the percipient 
himself had never seen, and of whose aspect he was ignorant, and yet his de- 
scription of it might be sufficiently definite for identification. But though one 
or more of these conditions would have to be fully satisfied before we could be 
convinced that any particular apparition of the dead had some cause external to 
the percipient’s own mind, there is one more general characteristic of the class 
which is sufficiently suggestive of such a cause to be worth considering. I mean 
the disproportionate number of cases which occur shortly after the death of the 
person represented. Such a time-relation, if frequently enough encountered, 
might enable us to argue for the objective origin of the phenomenon in a manner 
analogous to that which leads us to conclude that many phantasms of the living 
have an objective (a telepathic) origin. For, according to the doctrines of pro- 
babilities, a hallucination representing a known person would not by chance 
present a definite time-relation to a special cognate event — viz., the death of 
that person — ^in more than a certain percentage of the whole number of similar 
hallucinations that occur ; and if that percentage is decidedly exceeded, there 
is reason to surmise that some other cause than chance— in other words, some 
objective origin for the phantasm — is present. 

Supposing the peculiarity which I have mentioned to be established, the 
sipiificance of the time-relation would of course be quite a different question. 
The popular mind naturally leaps to explanations of an exciting fact, before 
the fact itself is at all established. Thus it is said that the deceased person 
comes to say farewell, or to cheer the hearts of mourners while their grief is 
fresh ; or that his spirit ” is “ earth-bound,” and can only gradually free itself. 
Or, again, there is the elaborate theory of “shells” propounded by M. D’Assier, 
who holds that, though consciousness and individuality have died, some basis 
of physical manifestation is still left, which fades away by slow degrees, I do 
not propose now to discuss any of these hypotheses. Our business at present 
is wholly with the facts of post-mortem appearances. The question for science 
is simply whether those facts point to any external cause at all ; and it is as 
bearing on this great primary question that the inquiry as to the relative fre- 
quency of the phenomena near the time of death assumes importance. 

It was in the formation of a large collection of first-hand testimony on the 
subject of sensory hallucination, that I was first struck by the large proportion 
of cases where the phantasm represented a friend or relative recently dead. 
Out of two hundred and thirty-one hallucinations representing recognised human 
beings, twenty-eight, or nearly an eighth part, occurred within a few weeks of 
the death of the person represented. There are two reasons, however, why 
little weight can be allowed to this fact In the first place a phantasm repre- 

^ I atn not here considering mediate manifestations, as where evidence of “spirit 
identity ” is alleged to have been given through, e.g.^ the writing of a medium under 
“ control.” 



12 


CHAPTER VII 


[707 

senting a person whose death is recent is specially likely to excite interest, and 
so to be noted and remembered ; and this might easily swell the percentage of 
this class of cases in such a collection as mine. And in the second place, the 
fact of the death was in every instance known to the percipient. It is, there- 
fore, natural to conclude that the emotional state of the percipient was the 
sufficient cause of the hallucination; and that is the explanation which the 
large majority of psychological and medical experts would at once adopt I 
should myself feel more completely satisfied with it if we had any record of 
the phantasmal appearance of a person whom the friend who saw the appear- 
ance believed to be dead, but who was really safe and sound. Still, false alarms 
of death are not so common as to make it certain, or perhaps even likely, that 
we should have encountered such a case. And meanwhile I think that grief, 
and the sense of awe commonly connected with death, ought to be held as the 
sufficient cause of abnormal sensory experiences connected with persons whose 
recent death is being mourned, until the objective reality of phantasms of the 
dead in certain cases is established by some independent line of proof. 

If, then, we are to draw any probable conclusion as to the objective nature 
of post-mortem appearances and communications (or of some of them) from 
the fact of their special frequency soon after death, we must confine ourselves 
to cases where the fact of death has been unknown to the percipient at the 
time of his experience. Now, in these days of letters and telegrams, people 
for the most part hear of the deaths of friends and relatives within a very 
few days, sometimes within a very few hours, after the death occurs ; so that ap- 
pearances of the sort required would, as a rule, have to follow very closely indeed 
on the death. Have we evidence of any considerable number of such ca.ses ? 

Readers of Phantasms of the Living will know that wc have. In a number 
of cases which were treated in that book as examples of telepathic transference 
from a dying person, the person was actually dead at the time that the perci- 
pient’s experience occurred ; and the inclusion of such cases under the title of 
Phantasfns of the Living naturally occasioned a certain amount of adverse 
criticism. Their inclusion, it will be remembered, required an assumption 
which cannot by any means be regarded as certain. We had to suppose that the 
telepathic transfer took place just before, or exactly at, the moment of death ; 
but that the impression remained latent in the percipient’s mind, and only after 
an interval emerged into his consciousness, whether as waking vision or as 
dream or in some other form. Now, as a provisional hypothesis, I think that 
this assumption was justified. For, in the first place, the moment of death is, 
in time, the central point of a cluster of abnormal experiences occurring to 
percipients at a distance, of which some precede^ while others follow, the death ; 
it is natural, therefore, to surmise that the same explanation will cover the whole 
group, and that the motive force in each of its divisions lies in a state of 
the “ agent ” prior to bodily death. In the second place, some of the facts 
of experimental thoug'ht-transfcrcnce countenance the view that transferred 
impressions ” may be latent for a time before the recipient becomes aware of 
them ; and recent discoveries with respect to the whole subject of automatism 
and secondary intelligence ” make it seem far less improbable than it would 
otherwise have seemed that telepathy may take effect first on the ** unconscious ** 
part of the mind.^ And in the third place, the period of supposed latency has 

1 In some experimental cases, it will be remembered, the impression takes effect 
through the motor^ not the sensory, system of the recipient, as by automatic writing, so 
that he is never directly aware of it at all. 



13 


707] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 

in a good many instances been a period when the person affected was in 
activity, and when his mind and senses were being solicited by other things ; 
and in such cases it is specially easy to suppose that the telepathic impression 
did not get the right conditions for rising into consciousness until a season of 
silence and recueillenient arrived.^ But though the theory of latency has thus 
a good deal to be said for it, my colleagues and I are most anxious not to be 
supposed to be putting forward as a dogma what must be regarded at present 
merely as a working hypothesis. Psychical research is of all subjects the one 
where it is most important to avoid this error, and to keep the mind open for 
new interpretations of the facts. And in the present instance there are certain 
definite objections which may fairly be made to the hypothesis that a telepathic 
impression derived from a dying person may emerge after hours of latency. 
The experimental cases to which I have referred as analogous are few and 
uncertain, and, moreover, in them the period of latency has been measured by 
seconds or minutes, not by hours. And though, as I have said, some of the 
instances of apparent delay among the death-cases might be accounted for by 
the fact that the percipient’s mind or senses needed to be withdrawn from 
other occupations before the manifestation could take place, there are other 
instances where this is not so, and where no ground at all appears for con- 
necting the delay with the percipient’s condition. On the whole, then, the 
alternative hypothesis — that the condition of the phenomenon on the “agent’s *’ 
side (be it psychical or be it physical) is one which only comes into existence 
at a distinct interval after death, and that the percipient really is impressed 
at the moment, and not before the moment, when he is conscious of the 
impression-— is one which must be steadily kept in view. 

So far I have been speaking of cases where the interval between the death 
and the manifestation was so short as to make the theory of latency possible. 
The rule adopted in Phantasms of the Living was that this interval must not 
exceed twelve hours. But we have records of a- few cases where this interval 
has been greatly exceeded, and yet where the fact of the death was still un- 
known to the percipient at the time of his experience. The theory of latency 
cannot reasonably be applied to cases where weeks or months divide the vision 
(or whatever it may be) from the moment of death, which is the latest at which 
an ordinary^ telepathically transferred idea could have obtained access to the 
percipient. And the existence of such cases— so far as it tends to establish 
the reality of objectively-caused apparitions of the dead — diminishes the ob- 
jection to conceiving that the appearances, &c., which have very shortly 
followed death have had a different causation from those which have coincided 
with or very shortly it. For we shall not be inventing a wholly new 

class for the fonner cases, but only provisionally shifting them from one class 
to another — to a much smaller and much less well-evidenced class, it is true, 
but one nevertheless for which we have evidence enough to justify us in ex- 
pecting more. 

1 See, for instance, case 500, Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 462. 

^ I mean by “ordinary” the classes which are recognised and treated of in 
Phantasms of the Living But if the departed survive, the possibility of thought- 
transference between them and those who remain is of course a perfectly tenable 
hypothesis. “ As our telepathic theory is a psychical one, and makes no physical 
assumptions, it would be perfectly applicable (though the name perhaps would be in- 
appropriate) to the conditions of disembodied existence.”— voL i. p. 512. 



14 


CHAPTER VII 


[708 

708. This, as I conceive, is a sound method of proceeding from 
ground made secure in Phantasms of the Living — and retraversed in my 
own just previous chapter — to cases closely analogous, save for that little 
difference in time-relations, that occurrence in the hours which follow, 
instead of the hours which precede, bodily dissolution, which counts for 
so much in our insight into cosmic law.^ 

The hypothesis of latency which thus meets us in limine in this inquiry, 
will soon be found inadequate to cover the facts. Yet it will be well to 
dwell somewhat more fully upon its possible range. 

It might conduce to a clearer view of the facts if we could draw a 
curve, showing the proportionate number of apparitions observed at various 
periods before and after death. It would then be seen that they increase 
very rapidly for the few hours which precede death, and decrease gradu- 
ally during the hours and days which follow. In the present state of our 
evidence, however, and considering all the problems involved, there 
would perhaps be an affectation of more exactness than we can actually 
attain, were we to set forth such a curve, embodying the dates, in reference 
to death, of all the cases as yet received by us. It may be enough to 
say, generally, that if the length of the base-line represents a year, and 
the point with the highest ordinate the moment of death, the comparative 
frequency of veridical apparitions might be somewhat as follows : — 



That is to say, the recognised apparitions decrease rapidly in the few 
days after death, then more slowly ; and after about a year’s time they 
become so sporadic that we can no longer include them in a steadily 
descending line. 

1 Certain statistics as to these time-relations are given by Kdmund Gurney as 
follows {Prcceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 408) ; '*The statistics drawn from the first-hand 
records in Phantasms of the Lhing as to the time-relation of appearances, &c., occurring 
in close proximity to deaths, are as follows -In 134 cases the coincidence is represented 
as having been exact, or, when times are specifically stated, dose to within an hour. 
In 104 cases it is not known whether the percipicnt^s experience preceded or followed 
the death; such cases cannot be taken account of for our present purpose. There 



708] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 15 

Yet one more point must be touched on, to avoid misconception of 
the phrase cited above, that the moment of death is the centre of a 
cluster of abnormal experiences, of which some precede, while others 
follow the death.” Gurney, of course, did not mean to assume that the 
act of death itself was the cause of all these experiences. Those which 
occur before death may be caused or conditioned, not by the death itself, 
but by the abnormal state, as of coma, delirium, &c., which preceded the 
death. This we say because we have many instances where veridical 
phantasms have coincided with moments of crisis — carriage-accidents and 
the like — occurring to distant agents, but not followed by death. Accord- 
ingly we find that in almost all cases where a phantasm, apparently veridical, 
has preceded the agent’s death, that death was the result of disease and 
not of accident. To this rule there are very few exceptions. There is 
a case given in Phantasms of the Living (vol. ii. p. 5 2), where the phan- 
tasm seems on the evidence to have preceded by about half-an-hour 
(longitude allowed for) a sudden death by drowning. In this case the 
percipient was in a Norfolk farmhouse, the drowning man — or agent— 
was in a storm off the island of Tristan d’Acunha ; and we have sug- 
gested that an error of clocks or of observation may account for the 
discrepancy. In another case the death was in a sense a violent one, 
for it was a suicide ; but the morbidly excited state of the girl a few hours 
before death — when her phantasm was seen — ^was in itself a state of 
crisis. But there are also a few recorded cases (none of which were cited 
in Phantasms of the Living^ where a phantasm or double of some person 
has been observed some days previous to that person’s accidental death. 
The evidence obtained in the Census of Hallucinations, however, tended 
to show that cases of this sort are too few to suggest even primd facie a 
causal connection between the death and the apparition (see Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. X. p. 331). 

Thus much it has seemed needful to say in order to explain the diffi- 
culty of representing by any one curved line the true time-relations in- 
volved in this complex matter. I now proceed briefly to review some 
of the cases where the interval between death and phantasm has been 
measurable by minutes or hours. 

It is not easy to get definite cases where the interval has been measur- 
able hy minutes ; for if the percipient is at a distance from the agent 
we can seldom be sure that the clocks at both places have been correct, 
and correctly observed ; while if he is present with the agent we can 

remain 78 cases where it appears that there was an interval of more than an hour ; and 
of these 38 preceded and 40 followed the death. Of the 38 cases where the percipient^s 
experience preceded the death (all of which, of course, took place during a time when 
the * agent' was seriously ill), 19 fell within twenty-four hours of the death. Of the 
40 cases where the percipient’s experience followed the death, all followed within an 
interval of twenty-four hours, and in only one (included by mistake) was the twelve hours’ 
interval certainly exceeded, though there are one or two others where it is possible that 
it was slightly exceeded.” 



i 6 CHAPTER VII [709 

rarely be sure that the phaatasm observed is more than a mere subjective 
hallucination. Thus we have several accounts of a rushing sound heard 
by the watcher of a dying man just after his apparent death, or of some 
kind of luminosity observed near his person ; but this is just the moment 
when we may suppose some subjective hallucination likely to occur, and 
if one person’s senses alone are affected we cannot allow much evidential 
weight to the occurrence. I may add that one of our cases (which I 
quote below, in 747) is remarkable in that the auditory hallucina- 
tion — a sound as of female voices gently singing — was heard by five per- 
sons — by four of them, as it seems, independently — and in two places, on 
different sides of the house. At the same time, one person — the Eton 
master whose mother had just died, and who was therefore presumably 
in a frame of mind more prone to hallucination than the physician, 
matron, friend, or servants who actually did hear the singing — himself 
heard nothing at all. In this case the physician felt no doubt that 
Mrs, L. was actually dead ; and in fact it was during the laying out of 
the body that the sounds occurred. In including this case and similar 
collective ones in Phantasms of the Livings Gurney expressly stated 
(vol. ii. pp. 190-92) that he did so because in his view they involved at 
least an element of thought-transference between the living minds of the 
percipients, whatever other influence may or may not have proceeded from 
the deceased person. But if we are finding reason to suppose that the 
deceased person’s power of influencing other minds may persist after death, 
it seems reasonable to dwell on that aspect of such an incident as this.^ 
709. There are some other circumstances also in which, in spite of 
the fact that the death is already known, a hallucination occurring shortly 
afterwards may have some slight evidential value. Thus we have a case 
where a lady who knew that her sister had died a few hours previously, 
but who was not herself in any morbidly excited condition, seemed to see 
some one enter her own dining-room, opening and shutting the door. 
The percipient (who had never had any other hallucination) was much 
astonished when she found no one in the dining-room ; but it did not till 
some time afterwards occur to her that the incident could be in any way 
connected with her recent loss. This reminds us of a case (ii. p. 694®) 
where the Rev. R. M. Hill sees a tall figure rush into the room, which 
alarms and surprises him, then vanishes before he has time to recognise it. 

The Procudings of the American Society for Psychical Research (vol i, p. 405) 
contain a case where a physician and his wife, sleeping in separate but adjoitiing rooms, 
are both of them awakened by a bright light. The physician sees a %uic standing in 
the light ; his wife, who gets up to see what the light in her husbancr.H room may be, 
does not reach that room till the figure has disappeared. The figure is not clearly 
identified, but has some resemblance to a patient of the physician’s, who has died sud- 
denly (from hemorrhage) about three hours before, calling for her doctor, who did not 
anticipate this sudden end. Even this resemblance did not strike the percipient until 
after he knew of the death, and the defect in reeognitim has prevented me from quoting 
this case at length. 

® The references in this and the two following sections are to Phantasms oj 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


710 ] 


17 


An uncle, a tall man, dies about that moment, and it is remarked that 
although Mr. Hill knew his uncle to be ill, the anxiety which he may 
have felt would hardly have given rise to an unrecognised and formidable 
apparition. 

There are cases also where a percipient who has had an apparition of 
a friend shortly after that friend’s known death has had veridical hallucina- 
tions at other times, and has never had any hallucination of purely subjective 
origin. Such a percipient may naturally suppose that his apparition of the 
departed friend possessed the same veridical character which was common 
to the rest, although it was not per se evidential, since the fact of the death 
was already known. 

For the present, however, it will be better to return to the cases which 
are free from this important primd facie drawback — cases where the perci- 
pient was, at any rate, unaware that the death, which the phantasm seemed 
to indicate, had in fact taken place. 

710 . In the first place, there are a few cases where a percipient is 
informed of a death by a veridical phantasm, and then some hours after- 
wards a similar phantasm, differing perhaps in detail, recurs. 

Such was the case of Archdeacon Farler (i. p. 414), who twice during 
one night saw the dripping figure of a friend who, as it turned out, had 
been drowned during the previous day. Even the first appearance was 
several hours after the death, but this we might explain by the latency of 
the impression till a season of quiet. The second appearance may have 
been a kind of recrudescence of the first ; but if the theory of latency be 
discarded, so that the first appearance (if more than a mere chance- 
coincidence) is held to depend upon some energy excited by the deceased 
person after death, it would afford some ground for regarding the second 
appearance as also veridical. The figure in this case was once more seen 
a fortnight later, and on this occasion, as Archdeacon Farler informs me, 
in ordinary garb, with no special trace of accident. 

A similar repetition occurs (as noted by Gurney, vol. ii. p. 237, note) 
in the cases of Major Moncrieff (i. p. 415) ^ of Mr. Keulemans (i. p. 444) > 
where the second phantasm was held by the percipient to convey a fresh 
veridical picture; of Mr. Hernaman (i. p. 561), where, however, the 
agent was alive^ though dying, at the time of each appearance ; in the case 
of Mrs. Ellis (ii. p. 59) ; in the case of Mrs. D. (ii. p. 467) ; of Mrs. 
Fairman (ii. p. 482), and of Mr, F. J. Jones (ii. p. 500), where the death 
was again due to drowning, and the act of dying cannot, therefore, have 
been very prolonged. We may note also Mrs. Reed’s case (ii. p. 237), 
where a phantom is seen three times, the first two visions being apparently 
about the time of death, the third (occurring to a different percipient, 
whether independently or not is not clear) a few hours later. And in 
Captain Ayre’s case (ii. p. 25 ^ phantom seen by one percipient at 

about the time of the agent’s death is followed by hallucinatory sounds 
heard by the same and by another percipient for some three hours longer, 
von. II. B 



i8 


CHAPTER VII 


[711 

till the news of the death arrives. In the case of Mrs. Cox, again (ii. p. 
235)1 a child sees a phantom at about 9 p . m ., and Mrs. Cox sees the same 
figure, but in a different attitude, at about midnight, the exact hour of the 
corresponding death being unknown. In the case of Miss Harriss (ii. p. 
1 1 7), a hallucinatory voice, about the time of the death, but not suggesting 
the decedent, is followed by a dream the next night, which presents the 
dead person as in the act of dying. One or two other cases might be 
added to this list, and it is plain that the matter is one towards which 
observation should be specially directed. 

711. Turning now to the cases where the phantasm is not repeated, 
but occurs some hours after death, let us take a few narratives where the 
interval of time is pretty certain, and consider how far the hypothesis of 
latency looks probable in each instance. 

Where there is no actual hallucination, but only a feeling of unique 
malaise or distress following at a few hours’ interval on a friend’s death at 
a distance, as in Archdeacon Wilson’s case (i. p. 280), it is very hard 
to picture to ourselves what has taken place. Some injurious shock com- 
municated to the percipient’s brain at the moment ojf the agent’s death 
may conceivably have slowly worked itself into consciousness. The delay 
may have been due, so to say, to physiological rather than to psychical 
causes. 

Next take a case like that of Mrs. Wheatcroft (i. p. 420), or of Mrs. 
Evens (ii. p, 690), or Mr, Wingfield (quoted in 429 C), or Sister Bertha 
(quoted below in 743 A), where a definite hallucination of sight or sound 
occurs some hours after the death, but in the middle of the night. It is 
in a case of this sort that we can most readily suppose that a telepathic 
impact” received during the day has lain dormant until other excitations were 
hushed, and has externalised itself as a hallucination after the first sleep, 
just as when we wake from a first sleep some subject of interest or anxiety, 
which has been thrust out of our thoughts during the day, will often well 
upwards into consciousness with quite a new distinctness and force. But 
on the other hand, in the case (for instance) of Mrs. Teale (ii. p. 693), 
there is a deferment of some eight hours, and then the hallucination 
occurs while the percipient is sitting wide awake in the middle of her 
family. And in one of the most remarkable dream-cases in our collection 
(given in section 427) , Mrs. Stone’s experience does not resemble the 
mere emergence of a latent impression. It is long and complex, and 
suggests some sort of clairvoyance ; but if it be telepathic clairvoyance,” 
that is, a picture transferred from the decedent’s mind, then it almost 
requires us to suppose that a fost-mortem picture was thus transferred, a 
view of the accident and its consequences fttller than any which could 
have flashed through the dying man’s mind during his moment of sudden 
and violent death from the striking off of the top of the skull by a 
railway train. 

If once we assume that the deceased person’s mind could continue to 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


19 


712] 

act on living persons after his bodily death, then the confused horror of the 
series of pictures which were presented to Mrs. Storie’s view — mixed, it 
should be said, with an element of fresh departure which there was nothing 
in the accident itself to suggest— -would correspond well enough to what one 
can imagine a man’s feelings a few hours after such a death to be. This is 
trespassing, no doubt, on hazardous ground ; but if once we admit com- 
munication from the other side of death as a working hypothesis, we must 
allow ourselves to imagine something as to the attitude of the communi- 
cating mind, and the least violent supposition will be that that mind is 
still in part at least occupied with the same thoughts which last occupied 
it on earth. The case cited below (in 744) of the gardener Bard and Mrs. 
de Fr^ville well illustrates this view. And it is possible that there may be 
some interpretation of this kind for some of the cases where a funeral 
scene, or a dead body, is what the phantasm presents. In the remarkable 
case in 664 where a lady sees the body of a well-known London physician 
— about ten hours after death — lying in a bare unfurnished room (a 
cottage hospital abroad), the description, as we have it, would certainly 
fit best with some kind of telepathic clairvoyance prolonged after death — 
some power on the deceased person’s part to cause the percipient to 
share the picture which might at that moment be occupying his own mind. 

712. It will be seen that these phenomena are not of so simple a 
type as to admit of our considering them from the point of view of 
Hme-relaiions alone. Whatever else, indeed, a “ ghost ” may be, it is 
probably one of the most complex phenomena in nature. It is a function 
of two unknown variables — the incarnate spirit’s sensitivity and the dis- 
carnate spirit’s capacity of self- manifestation. Our attempt, therefore, to 
study such intercourse may begin at either end of the communication — 
with the percipient or with the agent. We shall have to ask. How does 
the incarnate mind receive the message? and we shall have to ask also, 
How does the discarnate mind originate and convey it? 

Now it is by pressing the former of these two questions that we have, 
I think, the best chance at present of gaining fresh light. So long as we 
are considering the incarnate mind we are, to some extent at least, on 
known ground ; and we may hope to discern analogies in some other 
among that mind’s operations to that possibly most perplexing of all its 
operations which consists in taking cognisance of messages from unem- 
bodied minds, and from an unseen world. I think, therefore, that the 
surest way, though most about,” as Bacon would say, to the comprehension 
of this sudden and startling phenomenon lies in the study of other rare 
mental phenomena which can be observed more at leisure, just as the 
surest way, though most about,” to the comprehension of some blazing 
inaccessible star has lain in the patient study of the spectra of the incan- 
descence of terrestrial substances which lie about our feet. I am ir 
hopes that by the study of various forms of subliminal consciousness 
subliminal faculty, subliminal perception, we may ultimately obtain 2 



20 


CHAPTER VII 


[713 

conception of our own total being and operation which may show us the 
incarnate mind’s perception of the discarnate mind’s message as no 
isolated anomaly, but an orderly exercise of natural and innate powers, 
frequently observed in action in somewhat similar ways. 

It is, I say, from this human or terrene side that I should prefer, were 
it possible, to study in the first instance all our cases. Could we not 
only share but interpret the percipient’s subjective feelings, could we 
compare those feelings with the feelings evoked by ordinary vision or 
telepathy among living men, we might get at a more intimate knowledge 
of what is happening than any observation from outside of the details of 
an apparition can supply. But this, of course, is not possible in any 
systematic way ; occasional glimpses, inferences, comparisons, are all that 
we can attain to as yet. On the other hand, it is comparatively easy to 
arrange the whole group of our cases in some series depending on their 
observed external character and details. They can, indeed, be arranged 
in more than one series of this kind — the difficulty is in selecting the most 
instructive. That which I shall here select is in some points arbitrary, 
but it has the advantage of bringing out the wide range of variation in the 
clearness and content of these apparitional communications, here arranged 
mainly in a descending series, beginning with those cases where fullest 
knowledge or purpose is shown, and ending with those where the indica- 
tion of intelligence becomes feeblest, dying away at last into vague sounds 
and sights without recognisable significance. 

713. But I shall begin (see 713 A) with a small group of 
cases, which I admit to be anomalous and non-evidcntial — for we 
cannot prove that they were more than subjective experiences — yet which 
certainly should not be lost, filling as they do, in all their grotesqueness, 
a niche in our series otherwise as yet vacant. If man’s spirit is separated 
at death from his organism, there must needs be cases where that separa- 
tion, although apparently, is not really complete. There must be subjec- 
tive sensations corresponding to the objective external facts of apparent 
death and subsequent resuscitation. Nor need it surprise those w^ho may 
have followed my general argument, if those subjective sensations should 
prove to be dreamlike and fantastic. Here, as so often in our inquiries, 
the very oddity and unexpectedness of the details — the absence of that 
solemnity which one would think the dying man’s own mind would have 
infused into the occasion — may point to the existence of some reality 
beneath the grotesque symbolism of the transitional dream. 

The transitional dream, I call it, for it seems to me not improbable — 
remote though such a view may be from current notions— -that the passage 
from one state to another may sometimes be accompanied with some 
temporary lack of adjustment between experiences taking place in such 
diffierent environments— between the systems of symbolism belonging to 
the one and to the other state. But the reason why I refer to the 
cases in this place is that here we have perhaps our nearest possible 



714] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 21 

approach — in M. Bertrand’s case the account, but for remoteness, might 
have been evidential enough — to the sensations of the spirit which is 
endeavouring to manifest itself; — an inside view of a would-be apparition. 
The narratives suggest, moreover, that spirits recently freed from the 
body may enjoy a fuller perception of earthly scenes than it is afterwards 
possible to retain, and that thus the predominance of apparitions of the 
recently dead may be to some extent explained. 

714 . We have, indeed, very few cases where actual apparitions give 
evidence of any continuity in the knowledge possessed by a spirit of 
friends on earth. Such evidence is, naturally enough, more often fur- 
nished by automatic script or utterance. But there is one case where a 
spirit is recorded as appearing repeatedly — in guardian angel fashion — 
and especially as foreseeing and sympathising with the survivor’s future 
marriage. 

The account of this case, given by Mr. E, Mamtchitch, is taken from 
the Report on the Census of Hallucinations ” in the Proceedings S.P. R., 
vol. X. pp. 387-91. 


St. Petersburg, April 1891. 

Comme il s’agira des apparitions de Palladia, je dois dire auparavant quel- 
ques mots sur sa personne. Elle ^tait la fille d’un riche propridtaire russe, mort 
un mois avant sa naissance. Sa m^re, dans son d^sespoir, voua son enfant 
futur au couvent, De 1 ^ son nom, usit^ parmi les religieuses. Deux ans apr^s, 
sa m^re mourut, et I’orpheline, jusqu’k I’ige de 14 ans, fut ^ev^e dans un 
couvent de Moscou par sa tante, qui en dtait la supdrieure. 

En 1870, dtant encore dtudiant k I’universitd de Moscou, je fis la connais- 
sance du fr^re de Palladia, dtudiant comme moi, et il fut souvent question entre 
nous de rendre k la socidtd la nonne malgr^ soi ; mais ce plan ne fut rdalisd qu’en 
1S72. J’dtais venu en dtd k Moscou, pour voir l’e 3 l|josition, et j’y rencontrai par 
hasard le fr^re de Palladia. J'appris qu’il dtait en train de I’envoyer en Crimde 
pour cause de santd, et je le secondai de mon mieux. C’est alors que je vis 
Palladia pour la premiere fois ; elle avait 14 ans ; quoique haute de taille, elle 
dtait fort chdtive et ddjk poitrinaire. A la pri^re de son fr^re, j’accompagnai 
Palladia et sa soeur, Mme. P. S., en Crimde, ou elles rest^rent pour passer I’hiver, 
et moi, deux semaines apr^s, je revins k Kieff. 

En dtd 1873 je rencontrai par hasard Palladia et sa soeur k Odessa, ok elles 
dtaient venues pour consulter les mddecins, quoique Palladia avait Pair de se 
porter assez bien. Le 27 Aokt, pendant que je faisais la lecture aux deux 
dames, Palladia mourut subitement d’un andvrisme, k Pkge de 15 ans. 

Deux ans aprds la mort de Palladia, en 1875, me trouvantk Kieif, il m’arriva, 
par une soirde du mois de Ddcembre, d’assister pour la premidre fois k une 
sdance spiritique; j’entendis des coups dans la table; cela ne m’dtonna nulle- 
mcnt, car j’dtait skr que c’dtait une plaisanterie. De retour chez moi, je voulus 
voir si les mdmes coups sc produiraient chez moi ; je me mis dans la mdme 
pose, les mains sur la table. Bientdt des coups se firent entendre. Imitant 
le procddd dont j’avais dtd le temoin, je commencai k rdciter I’alphabet ; le nom 
de Pa^adia me fut indiqud. Je fus dtonnd, presque effrayd ; ne pouvant me 
tranquilliser, je me mis de nouveau k la table, et je demandai k Palladia, 
qu’avait-elle k me dire? La rdponse fut : Replacer Pange^ il tombeP Je ne 



22 


CHAPTER VII 


[714 


compris pas de suite de quoi il s’agissait. Le fait est qu’elle est enterr^e k 
Kieff, et j’avais entendu dire qu’on voulait mettre un monument sur sa tombe, 
mais je n’y avais jamais 6 t 6 , et je ne savais pas de quel genre ^tait le monument- 
Apr^s cette r^ponse, je ne me couchai plus, et d^s que le jour parut je me 
rendis au cimeti^re. Non sans peine, avec I’aide du gardien, je ddcouvris enfin 
la tombe enfouie sous la neige. Je m’arr^tai stup^fi^ : la statue en marbre de 
Tange avec une croix dtait tout k fait de c6td. 

Depuis ce moment, il me fut prouvd k Tdvidence qu’il y a un autre monde 
avec lequel, je ne sais comment, nous pouvons entrer en rapport, et dont les 
habitants peuvent nous donner de telles preuves de leur existence qu’cllcs 
ddsarmcnt le scepticisme le plus tenace. 

En Octobre, 1876, je me trouvais k Kieff, et j’dtais en train de m’installer 
dans un nouveau logement (me Prordsnaya) avec mon camarade de service au 
Ministbre de la Justice, M. Potolof. On venait de m’apportcr un pianino. Il 
fut placd dans la salle, et je me mis k jouer; il dtait k peu prds 8 h. du soir; la 
salle ou je jouais dtait dclairde par une lampe pendue au mur. A cCtd se trou- 
vait mon cabinet de travail, dclaird aussi par une lampe. Jc me rappclle triis 
bien que j’dtais de fort bonne humeur. Mon camarade, M. Potolof, 6tait occupd 
k sa table, k Tautre bout du logis. Toutes les portes dtaicnt ouvertes, et de sa 
place il pouvait voir trhs bien le cabinet et la salle ou je jouais.^ Jetant un 
regard vers la portc de mon cabinet de travail, je vis tout k coup Palladia. Elle 
se tenait au milieu de la portc. un peu de c6td, avec le visage tournd vers moi. 
Elle me regardait tranquillement. Elle avait la m6me robe foncdc qu’elle por- 
tait lorsqu’clle mourut en ma presence. Sa main droite pcndait libremcnt. 
Je voyais distinctement ses dpaules et sa taille, mais ne me rappclle pas du has 
de son habit, et avais-je vu les pieds ? — peut-dtre, parce que tout le temps jc lui 
rcgardais dans le.s yeux. En la voyant, j’avais tout k fait oublid que je voyais 
devant moi non une personne vivante, mais mortc, tellement je la voyais dis- 
tinctement; elle dtait dclairde de deux cOtdsj et d’autant plus j’ai la vue irks 
bonne. Ma premiere sensation fut un frisson dans le dos. Jc fus comme 
pdtrifid et ma respiration fut suspendue ; mais ce n’dtait pas un effet causd par 
la frayeur ou Texcitation,— c’dtait quelqpe chose d’autre. Je puis comparer cola 
k la sensation que j’dprouve quand je regarde en bas d’une grande hauteur; je 
sens alors une terrible anxidtd et en m6me temps je ne puis me retenir de rc- 
garder, quelque chose m'attire invinciblement. Combien de temps Palladia 
resta devant moi, je ne saurais le dire, mais je me rappelle qu’elle fit un mouve- 
ment k droite et disparut derri^re la porte du cabinet du travail. Jc me prd- 
cipitai vers elle, mais dans la porte je m’arrdtai, car alors seulement je me rap- 
pelai qu’elle dtait ddjk morte, et je craignai d’entrer, dtant sOr de la revoir. 
Dans ce moment mon camarade vint k moi et me demanda qu’e$t-cc que 
Javais? Jc lui dis ce qux venait de se passer; alors nous entr£ime.s au cabinet, 
oii nous ne trouv&mes personne. Mon camarade, ayant entendu la brus()ue in- 
terruption de mon jeu, avait Icvd la tdte et, tant que je me rappelle, disait avoir 
vu aussi quelqu’un passer devant la porte de mon cabinet , mais, voyant mon 
excitation, il me dit, pour me tranquilliser, que probablement c’dtait Nikita, 
mon domestique, qui dtait venu arranger la lampe. Nous allilmes immddiate- 
ment dans sa chambre, il n’y dtait pas ; il dtait en bas, dans la cuisine, ok il 


* A plan enclosed .shows u suite of four rooms, M. Potolof’s study, the ante-room, the 
drawing-room, and M. Mamtehiteb's study, all opening into one another, the three doors 
between them being in one straight Une. 



714] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 23 

pr^parait le samovar. Voilk comment je vis Palladia pour la premiere fois, 
trois ans apr^s sa mort. 

Apr^is la premiere apparition de Palladia, en Octobre, 1876, et jusqu'k 
present, je la vois souvent II arrive que je la vois trois fois par semaine, ou 
deux fois le memo jour, ou bien un mois se passe sans la voir. En r^sum^, 
voilk les traits principaux de ces apparitions. 

(1) Palladia apparait toujours d'une faqon inattendue, me prenant comme 
par surprise, juste au moment quand j'y pense le moins. 

(2) Quand je veux la voir moi-m^me, j’ai beau y penser ou le vouloir — elle 
n’apparait pas. 

(3) A de rares exceptions, son apparition n’a aucun rapport avec le courant 
de ma vie, comme prdsage ou avertissement de quelqu’ dvdnement insolite. 

(4) Jamais je ne la vois en songe. 

(5) Je la vois dgalement quand je suis seul, ou en grande compagnie. 

(6) Elle m’apparait toujours avec la m^me expression sereine des yeux ; 
quelques fois avec un faible sourire. Elle ne m’a jamais parld, d I’exception de 
deux fois, que je vais raconter plus loin. 

(7) Je la vois toujours dans la robe foncde qu’elle portait lorsqu’elle mourut 
sous mes yeux. Je vois distinctement son visage; sa t^te, les dpaules et les 
bras, mais je ne vois pas ses pieds, ou plut6t je n’ai pas le temps de le 
examiner. 

(8) Chaque fois, en voyant Palladia inopindment, je perds la parole, je sens 
du froid dans le dos, je pdlis, je m¥crie faiblement, et ma respiration s’arr^te 
(c’est ce que me disent ceux qui par hasard m’ont observd pendant ce moment) , 

(9) L’apparition de Palladia se prolonge une, deux, trois minutes, puis 
graduellement elle s’efface et se dissout dans I’espace. 

A present je vais d^crire trois cas d^apparitions de Palladia dont je me 
souviens bien. 

(1) . En 1879, ^ Novembre, k Kieff, j’dtais assis k mon bureau k 

dcrire un acte d’accusation ; il dtait 8^ du soir, la montre dtait devant moi sur 
la table. Je me htois de finir mon travail, car k 9 h. je devais me rendre k une 
soirde. Tout k coup, en face de moi, assise sur un fauteuil, je vis Palladia ; elle 
avait le coude du bras droit sur la table et la tete appuyde sur la main. 
M’dtant remis de mon saisissement, je regardai la montre et je suivis le mouve- 
ment de Taiguille k seconde, puis je relevai les yeux sur Palladia ; je vis qu’elle 
n’avait pas changd de pose et son coude se dessinait clairement sur la table. 
Ses yeux me regardaient avec joie et sdrdnitd ; alors pour la premidre fois je me 
ddcidai de lui parler; “Que sentez-vous k prdsent?” lui demandai-je. Son 
visage resta impassible, ses Idvres, tant que je me rappelle, restdrent immobiles, 
mats j’entendis distinctement sa voix prononcer le mot “ Quidtude.” “ Je com- 
prends,” lui rdpondis-je, et effectivement, en ce moment, je comprenais toute la 
signification qu’elle avait mise dans ce mot. Encore une fois, pour dtre sUr que 
je ne rdvai pas, je regardai dc nouveau la montre et je suivis les mouvements de 
I’aiguille k seconde; je voyais clairement comme elle se mouvait, Ayant rap- 
portd mon reg-ard sur Palladia, je remarquai qu’elle commenqait dejk k s’effacer 
et disparaitre. Si je m’dtais avisd de noter immddiatement la signification du 
mot “Quidtude,” ma mdmoire aurait retenu tout ce qu’il y avait de nouveau et 
d’dtrange. Mais k peine avais-je quittd la table pour monter en haut, chez mon 
camarade Apouktine, avec lequel nous devious aller ensemble, que je ne pus 
Id dire autre chose que ce que je viens d’dcrire. 

(2) En 1885, je demeurais chez mes parents, kunt campagne du gouveme- 



24 CHAPTER VII [714 

ment de Poltava. Une dame de notre connaissance ^tait venue passer chez 
nous quelques jours avec ses deux demoiselles. Quelque temps aprtis leur 
arrivde, m’dtant r^veill^ k I’aube du jour, je vis Palladia (je dormais dans une 
aile s^parde ou j’dtais tout seul). Elle se tenait devant moi, k cinq pas k peu 
prds, et me regardait avec un sourire joyeux. S’dtant approchde de moi, elle 
me dit deux mots : J’ai dtd, j’ai vu,” et tout en souriant disparut. Que vou- 
laient dire ces mots, je ne pus le comprendre. Dans ma chambre dormait avcc 
moi mon setter. Dds que j’aper9us Palladia, le chien hdrissa le poil et avec 
glapissement sauta sur mon lit ; se pressant vers moi, il regardait dans la direc- 
tion ou je voyais Palladia. Le chien n’aboyait pas, tandis que, ordinairement, 
il ne laissait personne entrer dans la chambre sans aboyer et grogner. Et 
toutes les fois, quand mon chien voyait Palladia, il se pressait auprds de moi, 
comme chercliant un refuge. Quand Palladia disparut et je vins dans la 
maison, je ne dis rien k personne de cette incident. Le soir du meme jour, la 
file atnde de la dame qui se trouvait chez nous me raconta qu’une chose dtrangc 
lui dtait arrivde ce matin : “ M’^tant rdveill^e de grand matin, me dit-elle, ‘“j’ai 
senti comme si quelqu’un se tenait au chevet de mon lit, et j’entendis distincte- 
ment une voixme disant: ‘Ne me crains pas, je suis bonne et aimante.’ Je 
tournai la t^te, mais je ne vis rien ; ma mkre et ma soeur dormaient tranquille- 
ment; cela m ’a fort dtonnde, car jamais rien de pareil ne m’est arrivd.” Sur 
quoi je rdpondis que bien des choscs inexplicables nous arrivent; mais je ne lui 
dit rien de ce que j’avais vu le matin. Seulement un an plus tard, quand j’<$tais 
ddjk son fiance, je lui fis part de I’apparition et des paroles de Palladia le meme 
jour. N’dtait-ce pas elle qui <ftait venue la voir aussi ? Je dois ajouter que 
j’avais vu alors cctte demoiselle pour la premikre fois et quo je ne pensais pas 
du tout que j’allais I’dpouser. 

(3) En Octobre, 1890, je me trouvais avec ma femme et mon fils, kgd de 
deux ans, chez mes anciens amis, les Strijewsky, k leur campagne du gouverne- 
ment de Woroneje. Un jour, vers les 7 h. du soir, rentrant de la chasse, je 
passai dans I’aile que nous habitions pour changer de toilette; j’dtais assis daUwS 
une chambre dclairde par une grande lampe. La porte s’ouvrit et mon fils 01 < 5 g 
accourut; il se tenait aupr^s do mon fauteuil, quand Palladia apparut tout k 
coup devant moi. Jetant sur lui un coup d’oeil, je remarquai qu’il nc ddtachait 
pas les yeux de Palladia ; se tournant vers moi et montrant Palladia du doigt, 
il pronon^a; “La tante.” Je le pris sur les genoux et jetai un regard sur 
Palladia, mais elle n’dtait plus. Le visage d’Oldg ^tait tout k fait tranquil et 
joyeux ; il commen^ait seulement k parler, ce qui explique la d($nomi nation 
qu’il donna k Palladia. Eugene Mamtchitcii. 

Mrs. Mamtchitch writes : — 

5 Mai^ 1891. 

Je me rappelle trks bien que le 10 Juillet 1885, lorsque nous dtions en visite 
chez les parents de M. E. Mamtchitch, je m’dtais rdveilldc k I’aubc du jour, car 
il avait dtd convenu entre moi et ma sceur que nous irions fairc une promenade 
matinale. M'dtant soulcvde sur le lit, je vis que maman et ma smur dormaient, 
et en ce moment je sends comme si quelqu’un se tenait k mon chevet. M’dtant 
tournde k demi — car je craignais de bien regarder — ^je ne vis personne; m’dtant 
recouchde, j’entendis immddiatement, derridre et au dessus de ma tdte, une 
voix de femme me disant doucement, mais distinctement : “Ne me crains pas, 
je suis bonne et aimante,” et encore toute une phrase que j’oubliai k Tinstant 
mfime. Immddiatement aprds je m’habillai et j’allai me promener. C’est 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


714] 


25 


Strange que ces paroles ae m’effray^rent pas du tout. De retour, je n’en dis 
rien ni k ma m^re, ni k ma sceur, car elles n’aimaient pas de telles choses et 
n Y croyaient pas ; mais le soir du meme jour, comme la conversation tourna sur 
le spiritisme, je racontai k M. M. ce qui venait de m’arriver le matin ; il ne me 
rdpondit rien de parti culier. 

Je n’ai jamais eu aucune hallucination, ni avant, ni apr^s cet incident, k 
Texception d’un cas tout rdcent, quand je me suis vue moi-meme, de quoi je 
parlerai une autre fois. Sophie Mamtchitch. 

Mr. Potolof writes to the collector, Mr. Aksakoff: — 


Rue Schpalernaya, 26. S. P^tersbourg, U 10 Mai , 1891. 

Monsieur,— En rdponse k votre lettre du 8 Mai et les questions que vous 
me posez relativement k Tincident avec M. E. Mamtchitch, lorsque dans les 
anndes 1876-77 nous habitions ensemble Kieff, rue Proresnaya, maison 
Barsky, je puis vous communiquer ce qui suit. Effectivement, je fus alors 
tdmoin comme M. M., pendant qu’il jouait un soir du piano quelque air mdlan- 
colique, s’interrompit brusquement (comme si apres avoir fortement attaqud le 
clavier, ses mains s’dtaient subitement aifaissdes), et lorsque je vinslui demander 
ce qui lui dtait arrivd, il me rdpondit qu’il venait de voir apparaitre le fantdme 
de Palladia, se tenant derri^re la draperie de la porte de la chambre contigue 
k celle oil se trouvait le piano. Je dois ajouter que notre appartement commun 
formait une enfilade de trois chambres, sans compter celle de Tentrde, qui 
occupait le milieu ; je travaillais dans ma chambre, qui dtait k droite de celle de 
Tentr^e, et je pouvais voir toute Tenfilade bien dclairde. Ce qui me regarde 
personnellement, je ne vis en ce moment aucune figure humaine passer par les 
chambres de M. M., mais je ne nie pas que pour le tranquilliser j’essayai 
d’expliquer cet incident par Tentrde de notre domestique Nikita j il se peut 
aussi que, ne Payant pas trouvd dans nos appartements, nousallkmes le chercher 
en bas, dans la cuisine. Voilk tout ce que je puis vous dire relativement k cet 
incident. W. Potolof. 

Note by the collector : — 

S. P:6tersbourg, Le 16/28 Mai , 1891. 

Traduit des manuscrits russes de M. et Madame Mamtchitch, et de M. 
Potolof. La premikre partie du manuscrit de M. Mamtchitch, jusqu’k la 
premiere apparition de Palladia, est abrdgde. 

J’avais rencontrd M. Mamtchitch plusieurs fois, mais je n’avais aucune idde 
de ces apparitions constantes de Palladia. M. Mamtchitch a vu aussi d’autres 
figures que celle de Palladia, mais je n’ai pas eu le temps d’en faire un 
memorandum circonstantiel. A. Aksakoff. 


Among repeated apparitions this case at present stands almost alone ; 
its parallels will be found when we come to deal with the persistent 
controls,” or alleged communicating spirits, which influence trance- 
utterance or automatic script. 

A case bearing some resemblance to Palladia’s is given in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 233, the main difference being that the repeated com- 
munications are there made in dream, I add in 714 A another case, 
where the deceased person seems to make repeated efforts to impress 
on survivors a wish prompted by continued affection. 



26 


CHAPTER VII 


[715 , 

715. Less uncommon are the cases where an apparition, occurring 
singly and not repeated, indicates a continued knowledge of the affairs 
of earth. That knowledge, indeed, runs mainly, as we shall presently see, 
in two directions. There is often knowledge of some circumstance con- 
nected with the deceased personas own death, as the appearance of his 
body after dissolution, or the place of its temporary deposit or final burial. 
And there is often knowledge of the impending or actual death of some 
friend of the deceased person’s. On the view here taken of the gradual 
passage from the one environment into the other, both these kinds of 
knowledge seem probable enough. I think it likely that some part of the 
consciousness after death may for some time be dreamily occupied with 
the physical scene. And similarly, when some surviving friend is gradu- 
ally verging towards the same dissolution, the fact may be readily per- 
ceptible in the spiritual world. When the friend has actually died, the 
knowledge which his predecessor may have of his transition is knowledge 
appertaining to events of the next world as much as of this. 

716. But apart from this information, acquired perhaps on the border- 
land between two states, apparitions do sometimes imply a perception of 
more definitely terrene events, such as the moral crises (as marriage, 
grave quarrels, or impending crimes) of friends left behind on earth. I 
quote in 716 A a specimen of this class,— -a case of impressive warning, 
in which the phantom was seen by two persons, one of whom had already 
had a less evidential experience. 

A word as to the light thrown on each other by these two successive 
experiences of the same percipient. The latter experience, as will have 
been seen, is strongly evidential. The nature of the warning given is 
such that the case would hardly have been communicated to us, even for 
anonymous publication, except under a grave sense of its importance. 
The former experience lacks, by its nature, coincidental proof. The 
daughter knew of her father’s death; she hoped, although uncertainly, 
that all was well with him; and the vision announcing his bliss might 
thus have been the creation of her own mind. It was a vision of con- 
solation” of a frequent type — a type excluded from our evidential reckon- 
ings. Yet I can hardly suppose that of the two visions thus similar the 
one was really due to spiritual agency and the other was not. I regard 
each as corroborating and lending weight to the other. 

I add in 716 B another case of similar type, the message in which, 
while felt by the percipient to be convincing and satisfactory, was 
held too private to be communicated in detail It is plain that just in 
the cases where the message is most intimately veracious, the greatest 
difficulty is likely to be felt as to making it known to strangers. 

I have already given a case (in 714) where a departed spirit seems to 
show a sympathetic anticipation of a marriage some time before it is 
contemplated. In another case, given in 716 0, the percipient, Mrs. V., 
describes a vision of a mother’s form suspended, as it were, in a church 



717] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 27 

where her son is undergoing the rite of confirmation. That vision, 
indeed, might have been purely subjective, as Mrs. V. was familiar with 
the departed mother's aspect; though value is given to it by the fact 
that Mrs. V. has had other experiences which included evidential 
coincidences. 

717, From these instances of knowledge shown by the departed of 
events which seem wholly terrene, I pass to knowledge of events which 
seem in some sense more nearly concerned with the spirit-world. We 
have, as already hinted, a considerable group of cases where a spirit seems 
to be aware of the impending death of a survivor. In some few of those 
cases the foreknowledge is entirely inexplicable by any such foresight as 
we mortals can imagine. But those cases I shall not cite here; de- 
ferring them until the whole question of the limits of spiritual precogni- 
tion comes to be discussed in a later chapter. In the cases to which I 
shall now allude the degree of foresight seems not greater than that of 
ordinary spectators, except in the case to be first given, where, though 
the family did not foresee the death, a physician might, for aught we 
know, have been able 'to anticipate it. However explained, the case is 
one of the best-attested, and in itself one of the most remarkable, that 
we possess. 

The account, which I quote from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 17, 
was sent in 1887 to the American Society for Psychical Research by 
Mr. F. G., of Boston. Professor Royce and Dr. Hodgson vouch for the 
high character and good position of the informants ; and it will be seen 
that, besides the percipient himself, his father and brother are first-hand 
witnesses as regards the most important point, — ^the effect produced by 
a certain symbolic item in the phantom's aspect. Mr. G. writes : — 

January iithy 1888. 

Sir, — Replying to the recently published request of your Society for actual 
occurrences of psychical phenomena, I respectfully submit the following remark- 
able occurrence to the consideration of your distinguished Society, with the 
assurance that the event made a more powerful impression on my mind than 
the combined incidents of my whole life. I have never mentioned it outside of 
my family and a few intimate friends, knowing well that few would believe it, or 
else ascribe it to some disordered state of my mind at the time; but I well know 
I never was in better health or possessed a clearer head and mind than at 
the time it occurred. 

In 1867 my only sister, a young lady of eighteen years, died suddenly of 
cholera in St. Louis, Mo. My attachment for her was very strong, and the 
blow a severe one to me. A year or so after her death the writer became a 
commercial traveller, and it was in 1876, while on one of my Western trips, that 
the event occurred. 

I had drummed " the city of St Joseph, Mo., and had gone to my room at 
the Pacific House to send in my orders, which were unusually large ones, so 
that I was in a very happy frame of mind indeed. My thoughts, of course, 
were about these orders, knowing how pleased my house would be at my 
success. I had not been thinking of my late sister, or in any manner reflecting 



28 


CHAPTER VII 


[717 


on the past. The hour was high noon, and the sun was shining cheerfully into 
my room. While busily smoking a cigar and writing out my orders, I sud- 
denly became conscious that some one was sitting on my left, with one arm 
resting on the table. Quick as a flash I turned and distinctly saw the form of 
my dead sister, and for a brief second or so looked her squarely in the face ; 
and so sure was I that it was she, that I sprang forward in delight, calling her 
by name, and, as I did so, the apparition instantly vanished. Naturally I was 
startled and dumbfounded, almost doubting my senses ; but the cigar in my 
mouth, and pen in hand, with the ink still moist on my letter, I satisfied myself 
I had not been dreaming and was wide awake. I was near enough to touch 
her, had it been a physical possibility, and noted her features, expression, and 
details of dress, &c. She appeared as if alive. Her eyes looked kindly and 
perfectly natural into mine. Her skin was so life-like that I could see the glow 
or moisture on its surface, and, on the whole, there was no change in her 
appearance, otherwise than when alive. 

Now comes the most remarkable confirmation of my statement, which cannot 
be doubted by those who know what I state actually occurred. This visitation, 
or whatever you may call it, so impressed me that I took the next train home, 
and in the presence of my parents and others I related what had occurred. 
My father, a man of rare good sense and very practical, was inclined to ridicule 
me, as he saw how earnestly I believed what I stated ; but he, too, was amazed 
when later on I told them of a bright red line or scratch on the right-hand side 
of my sister’s face, which I distinctly had seen. When I mentioned this my 
mother rose trembling to her feet and nearly fainted away, and as soon as she 
sufficiently recovered her self-possession, with tears streaming down her face, 
she exclaimed that I had indeed seen my sister, as no living mortal but herself 
was aware of that scratch, which she had accidentally made while doing some 
little act of kindness after my sister’s death. She said she well remembered how 
pained she was to think she should have, unintentionally, marred the features of 
her dead daughter, and that unknown to all, how she had carefully obliterated 
all traces of the slight scratch with the aid of powder, &c,, and that she had 
never mentioned it to a human being from that day to this. In proof, neither 
my father nor any of our family had detected it, and positively were unaware of 
the incident, yet / saw the scratch as bright as if just made. So strangely 
impressed was my mother, that even after she had retired to rest she got up and 
dressed, came to me and told me she knew at least that I had seen my sister. 
A few weeks later my mother died, happy in her belief she would rejoin her 
favourite daughter in a better world. 


In a further letter Mr. F. G. adds : — 


There was nothing of a .spiritual or ghostly nature in either the form or 
dress of my sister, she appearing perfectly natural, and dres.sed in clothing that 
she usually wore in life, and which was familiar to me. From her position at 
the table, I could only see her from the waist up^ and her appearance and 
everything she wore is indelibly photographed in my mind. I even had time to 
notice the collar and little breastpin she wore, as well as the comb in her hair, 
after the style then worn by young ladies. The drc.ss had no particular associar 
tion for me or my mother, no more so than others she was in the habit of 
wearing; but to-day, while 1 have forgotten all her other dresses, pins, and 
combs, i could go to her trunk (which we have just as she left it) and pick out 



717] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 29 

the very dress and ornaments she wore when she appeared to me, so well do I 
remember it 

You are correct in understanding that I returned home earlier than I had 
intended, as it had such an effect on me that I could hardly think of any 
other matter ; in fact, I abandoned a trip that I had barely commenced, and, 
ordinarily, would have remained on the road a month longer. 

Mr. F. G. again writes to Dr. Hodgson, January 23rd, 1888 : — 

As per your request, I enclose a letter from my father which is indorsed by 
my brother, confirming the statement I made to them of the apparition I had 
seen. I will add that my father is one of the oldest and most respected citizens 

of St. Louis, Mo., a retired merchant, whose winter residence is at , Ills., 

a few miles out by rail. He is now seventy years of age, but a remarkably 
well-preserved gentleman in body and mind, and a very learned man as well. 
As I informed you, he is slow to believe things that reason cannot explain. 
My brother, who indorses the statement, has resided in Boston for twelve years, 

doing business on Street, as per letter-head above, and the last man in 

the world to take stock in statements without good proof. The others who 
were present (including my mother) are now dead, or were then so young as to 
now have but a dim remembrance of the matter. 

You will note that my father refers to the “ scratch,’^ and it was this that 
puzzled all, even himself, and which we have never been able to account for, 
further than that in some mysterious way I had actually seen my sister nine 
years after deaths and had particularly noticed and described to my parents 
and family this bright red scratch, and which, beyond all doubt in our minds, 
was unknown to a soul save my mother, who had accidentally caused it. 

When I made my statement, all, of course, listened and were interested; 
but the matter would probably have passed with comments that it was a freak 
of memory had not I asked about the scratch, and the instant I mentioned it 
my mother was aroused as if she had received an electric shock, as she had 
kept it secret from all, and she alone was able to explain it. My mother was a 
sincere Christian lady, who was for twenty-five years superintendent of a large 
infant class in her church, the Southern Methodist, and a directress in many 
charitable institutions, and was highly educated. No lady at the time stood 
higher in the city of St, Louis, and she was, besides, a woman of rare good 
sense. 

I mention these points to give you an insight into the character and standing 
of those whose testimony, in such a case, is necessary. 

(Signed) F. G. 


From Mr. H. G. : — 

, January %oth, i888. 

Dear F., — ^Yours of i6th inst. is received. In reply to your questions 
relating to your having seen our Annie, while at St. Joseph, Mo., I will state 
that I well remember the statement you made to family on your return home. 
I remember your stating how she looked in ordinary home dress, and parti- 
cularly about the scratch (or red spot) on her face, which you could not account 
for, but which was fully explained by your mother. The spot was made while 
adjusting something about her head while in the casket, and covered with 
powder. All who heard you relate the phenomenal sight thought it was 



CHAPTER VII 


30 


[717 


true. You well know how sceptical I am about things which reason cannot 
explain. 

(Signed) H. G. (father). 

I was present at the time and indorse the above. 

(Signed) K. G. (brother). 

The apparent redness of the scratch on the face of the apparition goes 
naturally enough with the look of life in the face. The phantom did not 
appear as a corpse, but as a blooming girl, and the scratch showed as it 
would have shown if made during life. 

Dr. Hodgson visited Mr. F. G. later, and sent us the following notes 
of his interview : — 

St. Louis, Mo., April 16M, 1890. 

In conversation with Mr. F. G., now forty-three years of age, he says that 
there was a very special sympathy between his mother, sister, and himself. 

When he saw the apparition he was seated at a small table, about two feet 
in diameter, and had his left elbow on the table. The scratch which he saw 
was on the right side of his sister’s nose, about three-fourths of an inch long, 
and was a somewhat ragged mark. His home at the time of the incident was 
in St. Louis. His mother died within two weeks after the incident. His sister’s 
face was hardly a foot away from bis own. The sun was shining upon it through 
the open window. The figure disappeared like an instantaneous evaporation. 

Mr. G, has had another experience, but of a somewhat different character. 
Last fall the impression persisted for some lime of a lady friend of his, and he 
could not rid himself for some time of thoughts of her. He found afterwards 
that she died at the time of the curious persistence of his impression. 

Mr. G. appears to be a first-class witness. 

R. Hodgson. 


I have ranked this case primd facie as a perception by the spirit of her 
motber*s approaching death. That coincidence is too marked to be ex- 
plained away : the son is brought home in time to see his mother once 
more by perhaps the only means which would have succeeded ; and the 
mother herself is sustained by the knowledge that her daughter loves and 
awaits her. Mr. Podmore ^ has suggested, on the other hand, that the 
daughter’s figure was a mere projection from the mother’s mind : a con- 
ception which has scarcely any analogy to support it ; for the one ancient 
case of Wesermann’s projection of a female figure to a distance (already 
recounted in 668 G) remains, I think, the sole instance where an agent 
has generated a hallucinatory figure or group of figures which did not, at 
any rate, include his own. I mean that he may spontaneou.sly project a 
picture of himself as he is or dreams himself to be situated, perhaps with 
other figures round him, but not, so far as our evidence goes, the single 
figure of some one other than himself. Whilst not assuming that this rule 
can have no exceptions, I see no reason for supposing that it has been 
transgressed in the present case. Nay, I think that the very fact that the 

i See Phantasms of the Dead from another point of view,” Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. vi. p. 291. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


31 


719] 

figure was not that of the corpse with the dull mark on which the mother’s 
regretful thoughts might dwell, but was that of the girl iu health and 
happiness, with the symbolic red mark worn simply as a test of identity, 
goes far to show that it was not the mothei^s mind from whence that image 
came. As to the spirit’s own knowledge of the fate of the body after 
death, a subsequent group of cases will, I think, show that this specific 
form of post-mortem perception is not unusual (see 730 and 731 A). 

I add in Appendices three other cases where the impending death of 
a survivor seems to be indicated.^ In one of them— the apparition of a 
floating female figure to two officers (717 C)— the identification of that 
figure as the wife of the dying man is very imperfect. But the appear- 
ance of the figure to two persons collectively is well attested, and this is, 
at any rate, the explanation most in accordance with analogy. 

718. I place next by themselves a small group of cases which have 
the interest of uniting the group just recounted, where the spirit anticipates 
the friend’s departure, with the group next to be considered, where the 
spirit welcomes the friend already departed from earth. This class forms 
at the same time a natural extension of the clairvoyance of the dying 
exemplified in some reciprocal ” cases (e.g, in the case of Miss W., where 
a dying aunt has a vision of her little niece who sees an apparition of 
her at the same time ; see Phantasms of the Living^ vol, ii. p. 253 ). 
Just as the approaching severance of spirit from body there aided the 
spirit to project its observation among incarnate spirits at a distance 
upon this earth, so here does that same approaching severance enable 
the dying person to see spirits who are already in the next world. 

It is not very uncommon for dying persons to say, or to indicate when 
beyond speech, that they see spirit friends apparently near them. But, 
of course, such vision becomes evidential only when the dying person is. 
unaware that the friend whose spirit he sees has actually departed, or is 
just about to depart, from earth. Such a conjuncture must plainly be 
rare ; it is even rather surprising that these Peak in Darien ” cases, as 
Miss Cobbe has termed them in a small collection which she made 
some years ago, should be found at all. We can add to Miss Cobbe’s 
cases two of fair attestation, which I give in 718 A and B. 

719. From this last group, 'then, there is scarcely a noticeable transi- 
tion to the group where departed spirits manifest their knowledge that 
some friend who survived them has now passed on into their world. That 
such recognition and welcome does in fact take place, later evidence, 
drawn especially from trance-utterances, will give good ground to believe. * 
Only rarely, however, will such welcome — ^taking place as it does in the 
spiritual world— -be reflected by apparitions in this. When so reflected, it 
may take different forms, from an actual utterance of sympathy, as from 

a known departed friend, down to a mere silent presence, perhaps inex- 

^ For some curious parallels to these modem cases from savage beliefs, sec 
Mr. Andrew Lang’s Mythy Ritualy and Reli^tty vol. i. pp. 105-6. 



CHAPTER VII 


32 


[719 


plicable except to those who happen to have known some long prede- 
ceased friend of the decedent’s. 

I quote in full one of the most complete cases of this type, which was 
brought to us by the Census of Hallucinations {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. 
pp. 380-82). 

From Miss L. Dodson: — 


September 1891. 

On June 5th, 1887, a Sunday evening,^ between eleven and twelve at night, 
being awake, my name was called three times. I answered twice, thinking it 
was my uncle, “ Come in, Uncle George, I am awake,” but the third time I - 
recognised the voice as that of my mother, who had been dead sixteen years. 

I said, “ Mamma ! ” She then came round a screen near my bedside with two 
children in her arms, and placed them in my arms and put the bedclothes over 
them and said, “ Lucy, promise me to take care of them, for their mother is 
just dead.” I said, Yes, mamma.” She repeated, ^'’Promise me to take care 
of them,” I replied, “Yes, I promise you ; ” and I added, “ Oh, mamma, stay 
and speak to me, I am so wretched.” She replied, “ Not yet, my child,” then 
she seemed to go round the screen again, and I remained, feeling the children 
to be still in my arms, and fell asleep. When I awoke there was nothing. 
Tuesday morning, June 7th, I received the news of my sister-in-law’s death. 
She had given birth to a child three weeks before, which I did not know till 
after her death. 

I was in bed, but not asleep, and the room was lighted by a gaslight in the 
street outside. I was out of health, and in anxiety about family troubles. My 
age was forty-two. I was quite alone. I mentioned the circumstance to my 
uncle the next morning. He thought I was sickening for brain fever. [I have 
had other experiences, but] only to the extent of having felt a hand laid on my 
head, and sometimes on my hands, at times of great trouble. 

Lucy Dodson. 

The collector, Mr. C. H. Cope, writes in answer to our questions : — 

Brussels, October 1891, 

I have received replies from Miss Dodson to your inquiries. 

(1) “Yes [I was] perfectly awake [at the time].” 

(2) “Was she in anxiety about her sister-in-law?” “None whatever; I 
did not know a second baby had been born; in fact, had not the remotest idea 
of my sister-in-law’s illness.” 

(3) “ Did she think at the time that the words about the children’s mother 
having just died referred to her sister-in-law? Had she two children?” “ No, 

I was at a total loss to imagine whoso children they were.” 

(4) “ I was living in Albany Street, Regent’s Park, at the time. My sister- 

in-law, as I heard afterwards, was confined at St. Andrd (near Bruges), and 
removed to Bruges three clays prior to her death. She had two 

children including the new-born baby.) ” 

(5) « My laic uncle only saw business connections, and having no relations 
or personal friends in London, save myself, would not have been likely to 
mention the occurrence to any one.” 

We have ascertained that this date was a Sunday. 



719] 


PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


33 


Mr. Cope also sent us a copy of the printed announcement of the 
death, which Miss Dodson had received. It was dated, Bruges, June 7th, 
1887,'’ and gave the date of death as June 5th. He quotes from Miss 
Dodson’s letter to him, enclosing it, as follows: — ''[My friend], Mrs. 
Grange, tells me she saw [my sister-in-law] a couple of hours prior to her 
death, which took place about nine o’clock on the evening of June 5 th, 
and it was between eleven and twelve o’clock the same night my mother 
brought me the two little children.” 

Professor Sidgwick writes : — 

Nffa ember 23rd, 1892. 

I have just had an interesting conversation with Miss Dodson and her 
friend, Mrs. Grange. 

Miss Dodson told me that she was not thinking of her brother or his wife 
at this time, as her mind was absorbed by certain other matters. But the 
brother was an object of special concern to her, as her mother on her death- 
bed, in 1871, had specially charged her — ^and she had promised — to take care 
of the other children, especially this brother, who was then five years old. He 
had married in April 1885, and she had not seen him since, though she had 
heard of the birth of his first child, a little girl, in January 1886; and she had 
never seen his wife nor heard of the birth of the second child. 

She is as sure as she can be that she was awake at the time of the expe- 
rience. She knew the time by a clock in the room and also a clock outside. 
She heard this latter strike twelve afterwards, and the apparition must have 
occurred after eleven, because lights were out in front of the public-house. 
The children seemed to be with her a long time ; indeed, they seemed to be 
still with her when the clock struck twelve. The room was usually light enough 
to see things in — e.g. to get a glass of water, &c. — owing to the lamp in the 
street, but the distinctness with which the vision was seen is not explicable by 
the real light. The children were of ages corresponding to those of her sister- 
in-law’s children, i,e, they seemed to be a little girl and a baby newly bom ; 
the sex was not distinguished. She was not at all alarmed. 

She heard from Mrs. Grange by letter, and afterwards orally from her 
brother, that her sister-in-law died between eight and nine the same night. 

She never had any experience of the kind, or any hallucination at all before : 
but since she has occasionally felt a hand on her head in trouble. 

Mrs. Grange told me that she was with the sister-in-law about an hour and a 
half before her death. She left her about seven o’clock, without any particular 
alarm about her; though she was suffering from inflammation after childbirth, 
and Mrs. Grange did not quite like her look j still her state was not considered 
alarming by those who were attending on her. Then about 8.30 news came 
to Mrs. Grange in her own house that something had happened at the sister- 
in-law’s. As it was only in the next street, Mrs. Grange put on her bonnet and 
went round to the house, and found she was dead. She then wrote and told 
Miss Dodson. 

I quote further cases more or less analogous to this in the Appendices 
to this section. In the first (719 A) the apparition of a dying mother 
brings the news of her own death and that her baby is living. In the 
second (719 B) a mother sees a vision of her son being drowned and 
also an apparition of her own dead mother, who tells her of the drowning, 
VOL. n, c 



34 


CHAPTER VII 


[720 

In this case, the question may be raised as to whether the second figure 
seen may not have been, so to say, substitutive — a symbol in which the 
percipient's own mind clothed a telepathic impression of the actual 
decedent's passage from earth. Such a view might perhaps be supported 
by some anomalous cases where news of the death is brought by the 
apparition of a person still living, who, nevertheless, is not by any normal 
means aware of the death. (See the case of Mrs. T., already given in 
Chapter IV., 428, and that of Miss Hawkins- Dempster in 719 C.) 

720. I will quote here one case, at any rate, where such an explanation 
would be impossible, since both the deceased person and the phantasmal 
figure were previously unknown to the percipient. This case — the last 
which Edmund Gurney published — comes from an excellent witness. 
The psychical incident which it seems to imply, while very remote from 
popular notions, would be quite in accordance with the rest of our present 
series. A lady dies \ her husband in the spirit-world is moved by her 
arrival ; and the direction thus given to his thought projects a picture of 
him, clothed as in the days when he lived with her, into visibility in the 
house where her body is lying. We have thus a dream-like recurrence to 
earthly memories, prompted by a revival of those memories which had 
taken place in the spiritual world. The case is midway between a case of 
welcome and a case of haunting. 

From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 422-26. The account is given by 
Mrs. Bacchus, of Sherbourne Villa, Leamington. 

August 1886 . 

On Saturday, October i8th [really 24th], 1868, we left some friends (the 
Marquis and Madame de Lys) with whom we had been staying at Malvern 
Wells, and went to Cheltenham. The reason for going to Cheltenham was 
that a brother-in-law of my husband, Mr. George Copeland, was living there. 
He was a great invalid, suffering from paralysis and quite unable to move, but 
in full mental vigour, so his friends were anxious to see him as often as possible 
to relieve the dreariness of his long illness, and we did not like to be so near 
without paying him a visit. We knew that he had friends staying in the house 
at the time, so determined to go to Cheltenham without letting him know, to 
take lodgings near, and then tell him we had done so, that he might not feel he 
ought to invite us to his house. We soon found some rooms in York Terrace, 
close to Bay’s Hill, Mr. Copeland’s house. After we had taken the rooms — 
the usual lodging-house kind -drawing-room and bedroom at the back, and 
were going out, we noticed some medicine bottles on the hall tables asked if 
any one were ill in the house, and were told that an old lady, a Mrs. R., and 
her daughter were in the dining-room, that Mrs. R. had been ill for some time, 
that her illness was not serious and that there was no immediate danger of her 
dying; in fact, it was made quite light of, and we thought no more about it. 
We just mentioned in the course of the evening the name of the people lodging 
in the same house, and Mr. Copeland said he knew who Mrs. R* was ; she was 
the widow of a physician who formerly practised in Cheltenham, that one of 
her daughters was married to a master of the College, a Mr. N. Then I 
remembered having seen Mrs. N. at a garden-party at Dr, Barry’s the year 
before, and had noticed her talking to Mrs. Barry, and thought her very pretty. 
This was all I knew or ever heard of the people. On Sunday morning, when 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


3S 


720 ] 

I came into the drawing-room for breakfast, I thought my husband looked a 
little uncomfortable ; however, he said nothing till I had finished breakfast, 
then asked, ** Did you hear a noise of a chair in the hall a little while ago ? 
The old lady downstairs died in her chair last night, and they were w’heeling 
her into the bedroom at the back.” I was very uncomfortable and frightened ; 
I had never been in a house with any one dead before, and wanted to go, and 
several friends who heard of it asked me to stay with them, but my husband 
did not wish to move. He said it was a great deal of trouble, was really foolish 
of me to wish it, that he did not like moving on Sunday, also that he did not 
think it right or kind to go away because some one had died, that we should 
think it unkind if the case had been our own, and other people had rushed 
off in a hurry ; so we decided to stay. I spent the day with my brother-in-law 
and nieces, and only returned to the lodgings in time to go to bed. I went to 
sleep quickly as usual, but woke, I suppose, in the middle of the night, not 
frightened by any noise, and for no reason, and saw distinctly at the foot of the 
bed an old gentleman with a round rosy face, smiling, his hat in his hand, 
dressed in an old-fashioned coat (blue) with brass buttons, light waistcoat, and 
trousers. The longer I looked at him the more distinctly I saw every feature 
and particular of his dress, &c. I did not feel much frightened, and after a 
time shut my eyes for a minute or two, and when I looked again the old gentle- 
man was gone. After a time I went to sleep, and in the morning, while 
dressing, made up my mind that I would say nothing of what I had seen till I 
saw one of my nieces, and would then describe the old gentleman, and ask if 
Dr. R. could be like him, although the idea seemed absurd. I met my niece, 
Mary Copeland (now Mrs. Brandling), coming out of church, and said, “ Was 
Dr. R. like an old gentleman with a round rosy face,” &c., &c., describing what 
I had seen. She stopped at once on the pavement, looking astonished. “ Who 
could have told you, aunt? We always said he looked more like a country 
farmer than a doctor, and how odd it was that such a common-looking man 
should have had such pretty daughters.” 

This is an exact account of what I saw. I am quite sure I should know 
the old gentleman again, his face is clearly before me when I think of it now, 
as at the time Miss de Lys had a letter from me with the story, and sent it to 
a relation in France; she heard me tell it again some years after, and said 
there was no variation whatever in it. My two nieces are still living, and can 
remember exactly everything that happened as I told it to them. Of course 
I cannot explain it in any way ; the old lady who was dead was in the room 
directly under the one I was sleeping in. The part of the whole thing that 
surprised me the most was, that I was so very little frightened as to be able 
to sleep afterwards, and did not wish to disturb any one else. 

Mr. Bacchus writes : — 

Leamington, September Trjthy 1886. 

I have read my wife^s account of what happened at Cheltenham when we 
were staying there in October 1868; it is exactly what she told me at the 
time, and I remember it all perfectly, also her telling my niece about it in the 
morning. , Henry Bacchus. 

In answer to further questions, Mrs. Bacchus replied as follows : — 

September 4/^, i886. 

(1) I have never seen anything of the kind before or since. 

(2) I gave the date from memory. The day was Saturday, and it was Sun- 
day night, or early on Monday morning, that I saw Dr. R. 



36 


CHAPTER VII 


[721 

(3) I do not remember the number in York Terrace; probably the Times 
of October 1868 would give Mrs- R.’s death and where it took place. [The 
Times gives the death at 7 York Terrace, Sunday, October 25th, 1868.] 

(4) The letter to Miss de Lys cannot be found; all my letters to her were 
burnt after she died in 1883. 

(5) Mr. Bacchus and Mrs. Henry Berkeley have given their account. Mrs. 
Brandling has not yet written. 

(6) I am quite sure I never saw any picture of any kind of Dr. R. 

(7) I do not know when he died ; probably three or four years before I saw 
him. His death was spoken of in that way. I can find out if necessary from 
an old servant of Mr. Copeland’s who lives at Cheltenham, and who would 
remember him, and be able to inquire. 

(8) I do not remember anything about the light, if there was a night-light 
in the room or not; I think not. When I say, ‘‘do not remember,” I mean 
that being asked puzzles me ; my impression of the whole thing is that it was 
like a magic lantern, all dark round, and the figure, colour, and clothes quite 
light and bright. I always see the whole thing when I speak of it. 

Isabelle Bacchus. 

Statements were also obtained from Mrs. Berkeley and Mrs. Brand- 
ling, nieces of Mrs. Bacchus, confirming her recollection that she had 
described the details ,of the apparition to them the next morning, and 
that it clo.sely resembled Dr. R., as they remembered him. These 
statements are printed in full in the Proceedings. 

Mr, R. died (as Mrs. Bacchus ascertained lor us), August 30th, 1865. 

721. I now come to a <!©nsiderable group of cases where the departed 
spirit shows a definite knowledge of some fact connected with his own 
earth-life, his death, or subsequent events connected with that death. 
The knowledge of subsequent events, as of the spread of the news of his 
death, or as to the place of his burial, is, of course, a greater achievement 
(so to term it) than a mere recollection of facts known to him in life, and 
ought strictly, on the plan of this series, to be first illustrated. But it 
will be seen that all these stages of knowledge cohere together ; and their 
connection can better be shown if I begin at the lower stage, — of mere 
earth-memory. Now here again, as so often already, we shall have to 
wait for automatic script and the like to illustrate the full extent of the 
deceased person’s possible memory. Readers of the utterances, for 
instance, of ‘‘George Pelham” (see Chapter IX,), will know how full and 
accurate may be these recollections from beyond the grave. Mere appari- 
tions, such as those with which we are now dealing, can rarely give more 
than one brief message, probably felt by the deceased to be of urgent 
importance. 

I will quote at length a well-attested case where the information com- 
municated in a vision proved to be definite, accurate, and important to 
the survivors. (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 200-205.) ^ 

1 Some of the correspondence about the case given in the Proceedings is omitted here 
for want of space. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


721] 


37 


The first report of the case appeared in The Herald (Dubuque, Iowa), 
February nth, 1891, as follows: — 


It will be remembered that on February 2nd, Michael Conley, a fanner 
living near Ionia, Chickasaw County, was found dead in an outhouse at the 
Jefferson house. He was carried to Coroner Hoffmann’s morgue, where, after 
the inquest, his body was prepared for shipment to his late home. The old 
clothes which he wore were covered with filth from the place where he was 
found, and they were thrown outside the morgue on the ground. 

His son came from Ionia, and took the corpse home. When he reached 
there, and one of the daughters was told that her father was dead, she fell into 
a swoon, in which she remained for several hours. When at last she was 
brought from the swoon, she said, “ Where are father’s old clothes ? He has 
just appeared to me dressed in a white shirt, black clothes, and felt [mis-reported 
for satin'\ slippers, and told me that after leaving home he sewed a large roll of 
bills inside his grey shirt with a piece of my red dress, and the money is still 
there.” In a short time she fell into another swoon, and when out of it 
demanded that somebody go to Dubuque and get the clothes. She was deathly 
sick, and is so yet. 

The entire family considered it only a hallucination, but the physician 
advised them to get the clothes, as it might set her mind at rest. The son 
telephoned Coroner Hoffmann, asking if the clothes were still in his posses- 
sion, He looked and found them in the backyard, although he had supposed 
they were thrown in the vault, as he had intended. He answered that he still 
had them, and on being told that the son would come to get them, they 
were wrapped in a bundle. 

The young man arrived last Monday afternoon, and told Coroner Hoffmann 
what his sister had said. Mr. Hoffmann admitted that the lady had described 
the identical burial garb in which her father was clad, even to the slippers, 
although she never saw him after death, and none of the family had seen more 
than his lace through the cofiin lid. Curiosity being fully aroused, they took 
the grey shirt from the bundle, and within the bosom found a large roll of bills 
sewed with a piece of red cloth. The young man said his sister had a red dress 
exactly like it. The stitches were large and irregular, and looked to be those 
of a man. The son wrapped up the garments and took them home with him 
yesterday morning, filled with wonder at the supernatural revelation made to 
his sister, who is at present lingering between life and death. 

Dr. Hodgson communicated with the proprietors of The Herald^ and 
both they and their reporter who had written the account stated that it 
was strictly accurate. The coroner, Mr. Hoffmann, wrote to Dr. Hodgson 
on March i8th, 1891, as follows: — 

In regard to the statement in the Dubuque Herald^ about February 19th, 
about the Conley matter is more than true by my investigation. I laughed 
and did not believe in the matter when I first heard of it, until I satisfied 
myself by investigating and seeing what I did. 

M. M. Hoffmann, County Coroner. 

Further evidence was obtained through Mr. Amos Crum, pastor of a 
church at Dubuque. The following statement was made by Mr. Brown, 



CHAPTER VII 


38 


[721 


whom Mr, Crum described as “ an intelligent and reliable farmer, residing 
about one mile from the Conleys.” 


Ionia, 20/A, 1891. 

Elizabeth Conley, the subject of so much comment in the various papers, 
was born in Chickasaw township, Chickasaw County, Iowa, in March 1863. 
Her mother died the same year. Is of Irish parentage ; brought up, and is, a 
Roman Catholic ; has been keeping house for her father for ten years. 

On the 1st day of February 1891 her father went to Dubuque, Iowa, for 
medical treatment, and died on the 3rd of the same month very suddenly. 
His son was notified by telegraph the same day, and he and I started 
the next morning after the remains, which we found in charge of Coroner 
Hoffmann. 

He had 9 dollars 75 cents, which he had taken from his pocket-book. I 
think it was about two days after our return she had the dream or vision. She 
claimed her father had appeared to her, and told her there was a sum of money 
in an inside pocket of his undershirt. Her brother started for Dubuque a few 
days afterwards, and found the clothes as we had left them, and in the pocket 
referred to found 30 dollars in currency. These are the facts of the matter as 
near as 1 can give them. George Brown. 

Mr, Crum wrote later ; — 


Dubuque, Iowa, Au^t 15/A, 1891. 

Dear Mr. Hodgson,— I send you in another cover a detailed account of 
interview with the Conleys. I could not get the doctor. 

I have had a long talk with Mr. Hoffmann about the Conley incident, and 
think you have all the facts — and they are facts ^ 

The girl Lizzie Conley swooned. She saw her dead father ; she heard from 
him of the money left in his old shirt; she returned to bodily consciousness; 
she described her father’s burial dress, robe, shirt, and slippers exactly, though 
she had never seen them. She described the pocket in the shirt that had been 
left for days in the shed at the undertaker’s. It was a ragged-edged piece of 
red cloth clumsily sewn, and in this pocket was found a roll of bills— 35 dollars 
in amount — as taken out by Mr. Hoffmann in presence of Pat Conley, son of 
the deceased, and brother of the Lizzie Conley whose remarkable dream or 
vision is the subject of inquiry. Amos Crum, Past. Univ. Ch. 

... I herewith transcribe my questions addressed to Miss Elizabeth 
Conley and her replies to the same concerning her alleged dream or vision , . . . 

On July 17th, about noon, I called at the Conley home near Ionia, Chicka- 
saw County, Iowa, and inquired for Elizabeth Conley. She was present and 
engaged in her domestic labours. When I stated the object of my call, she 
seemed quite reluctant for a moment to engage in conversation. Then she 
directed a lad who was present to leave the room. She said she would converse 
with me upon the matter pertaining to her father. 

Q. What is your age ? A. Twenty-eight. 

Q. What is the state of your health? A. Not good since my fatheris death, 

Q. What was the state of your health previous to his death? A. It was 
good. I was a healthy girl. 

Q. Did you have dreams, visions, or swoons previous to your father’s death ? 
A. Why, I had dreams* Everybody has dreams. 



721 ] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 39 

Q. Have you ever made discoveries or received other informatiou during 
your dreams or visions previous to your father’s death? A. No. 

Q. Had there been anything unusual in your dreams or visions previous to 
your father’s death ? A, No, not that I know of. 

Q. Was your father in the habit of carrying considerable sums of money 
about his person? A. Not that I knew of. 

Q. Did you know before his death of the pocket in the breast of the shirt 
worn by him to Dubuque? A. No. 

Q. Did you wash or prepare that shirt for him to wear on his trip to 
Dubuque? A. No. It was a heavy woollen undershirt, and the pocket was 
stitched inside of the breast of it. 

Q. Will you recite the circumstances connected with the recovery of 
money from clothing worn by your father at the time of his death? A. 
(after some hesitation) When they told me that father was dead I felt very 
sick and bad; I did not know anything. Then father came to me. He 

had on a white shirt and black clothes and slippers. When I came to, I 

told Pat [her brother] I had seen father. I asked him (Pat) if he had 
brought back father’s old clothes. He said, “No,” and asked me why I 
wanted them. I told him father said to me he had sewed a roll of bills inside 

of his grey shirt, in a pocket made of a piece of my old red dress. I went 

to sleep, and father came to me again. When I awoke I told Pat he must go 
and get the clothes. 

Q. While in these swoons did you hear the ordinary conversations or noises 
in the house about you ? A. No. 

Q, Did you see your father’s body after it was placed in its coffin ? A. No ; 
I did not see him after he left the house to go to Dubuque. 

Q. Have you an education? A. No. 

Q. Can you read and write ? A. Oh yes, I can read and write ; but I’ve 
not been to school much. 

Q. Are you willing to write out what you have told me of this strange 
affair? A. Why, Pve told you all I know about it. 

She was averse to writing or to signing a written statement. During the 
conversation she was quite emotional, and manifested much effort to 
suppress her feelings. She is a little more than medium size, of Irish parent- 
age, of Catholic faith, and shows by her conversation that her education is 
limited. 

Her brother, Pat Conley, corroborates all that she has recited. He is a 
sincere and substantial man, and has no theory upon which to account for the 
strange facts that have come to his knowledge. In his presence Coroner 
Hoffmann, in Dubuque, found the shirt with its pocket of red cloth stitched on 
the inside with long, straggling, and awkward stitches, just as a dim-sighted old 
man or an awkward boy might sew it there. The pocket was about 7 [seven] 
inches deep, and in the pocket of that dirty old shirt that had lain in Hoff- 
mann’s ba^Jk room was a roll of bills amounting to 35 dollars. When the shirt 
was found with the pocket, as described by his sister after her swoon, and the 
money as told her by the old man after his deaths Pat Conley seemed dazed 
and overcome by the mystery. Hoffimann says the girl, after her swoon, de- 
scribed exactly the burial suit, shirt, coat or robe, and satin slippers in which 
the body was prepared for burial. She even described minutely the slippers, 
which were of a new pattern that had not been in the market here, and which 
the girl could never have seen a sample of ; and she had not seen, and never 



40 CHAPTER VII [722 

saw, the body of her father after it was placed in the coffin, and if she had seen 
it she could not have seen his feet “ in the nice black satin slippers ” which she 
described. . . . Amos Crum, Pastor Univ. Church. 

If we may accept the details of this narrative, which seems to have 
been carefully and promptly investigated, we find that the phantasm com- 
municates two sets of facts : one of them known only to strangers (the 
dress in which he was buried), and one of them known only to himself 
(the existence of the inside pocket and the money therein). In discussing 
from what mind these images originate it is, of course, important to note 
whether any living minds, known or unknown to the percipient, were 
aware of the facts thus conveyed. 

There are few cases where the communication between the percipient 
and the deceased seems to have been more direct than here. The hard, 
prosaic reality of the details of the message need not, of course, surprise 
us. On the contrary, the father’s sudden death in the midst of earthly 
business would at once retain his attention on money matters and facilitate 
his impressing them on the daughter’s mind. One wishes that more 
could be learned of the daughter’s condition when receiving the message. 
It seems to have resembled trance rather than dream. 

722. A dream in which a message of somewhat the same kind is given 
is here added in 722 A, after which will also be found (in 722 B) one of 
the few old cases whose lineage is sufficiently respectable to allow its 
entrance here. The preoccupation in each case turns on the fulfilment of 
a small duty. One other case in this group I must quote at length. It 
illustrates the fact that the cases of deepest interest are often the hardest 
for the inquirer to get hold of. 

From the Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. pp. 385-86. 

The account of the percipient, Baron B. von Driesen, was written in 
November 1890, and has been translated from the Russian by Mr. M. 
Petrovo-Solovovo, who sent us the case. 

[Baron von Driesen begins by saying that he has never believed and does 
not believe in the supernatural, and that he is more inclined to attribute the 
apparition he saw to his “ excited fancy ” than to anything else. After these 
preliminary remarks he proceeds as follows : — ] 

I must tell you that my father-in-law, M. N, J. Ponomareff, died in the 
country. This did not happen at once, but after a long and painful illness, 
whose sharp phases had obliged my wife and myself to join him long before 
his death. I had not been on good terms with M. Ponoinarcff. Different cir- 
cumstances, which are out of place in this narrative, had estranged us from 
each other, and these relations did not change until his death. He died very 
quietly, after having given his blessing to all his family, including myself. A 
liturgy for the rest of his soul was to be celebrated on the ninth day. I re- 
member very well how I went to bed between one and two o’clock on the eve 
of that day, and how I read the Gospel before falling asleep. My wife was 
sleeping in the same room. It was perfectly quiet I had just put out the 
candle when footsteps were heard in the adjacent room— a sound of slippers 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


41 


722 ] 

shuffling, I might say — ^which ceased before the door of our bedroom. I called 
out, Who is there ? ” No answer. I struck one match, then another, and when 
after the stifling smell of the sulphur the fire had lighted up the room, I saw M. 
Ponomareff standing before the closed door. Yes, it was he, in his blue 
dressing-gown, lined with squirrel furs and only half-buttoned, so that I could 
see his white waistcoat and his black trousers. It was he undoubtedly. I was 
not frightened. They say that, as a rule, one is not fnghtened when seeing a 
ghost, as ghosts possess the quality of paralysing fear. 

“What do you want?” I asked my father-in-law. M. PonomarefE made 
two steps forward, stopped before my bed, and said, “ Basil Feodorovitch, I 
have acted wrongly towards you. Forgive me 1 Without this I do not feel 
at rest there.” He was pointing to the ceiling with his left hand whilst hold- 
ing out his right to me. I seized this hand, which was long and cold, shook it, 
and answered, “ Nicholas Ivanovitch, God is my witness that I have never had 
anything against you.” 

[The ghost of] my father-in-law bowed [or bent down], moved away, and 
went through the opposite door into the billiard-room, where he disappeared. 
I looked after him for a moment, crossed myself, put out the candle, and fell 
asleep with the sense of joy which a man who has done his duty must feel. 
The morning came. My wife’s brothers, as well as our neighbours and the 
peasants, assembled, and the liturgy was celebrated by our confessor, the Rev. 
Father Basil, But when all was over, the same Father Basil led me aside, and 
said to me mysteriously, “Basil Feodorovitch, I have got something to say to 
you in private.” My wife having come near us at this moment, the clergyman 
repeated his wish. I answered, “ Father Basil, I have no secrets from my 
wife *, please tell us what you wished to tell me alone.” 

Then Father Basil, who is living till now in the Koi parish of the district of 
Kashin [Gov. of Tver], said to me in a rather solemn voice, “ This night at 
three o’clock Nicholas Ivanovitch [Ponomareff] appeared to me and begged of 
me to reconcile him to you.” (Signed) Baron Basil Driesen. 

Mr. Solovovo adds : — 

The Baroness von Driesen is now dead, so that her evidence cannot be 
obtained . . . 

I also saw Baron Basil von Driesen himself, and spoke with him about 
M. PonomarefE’s ghost. He stated to me that if he were going to die to-morrow, 
he should still be ready to swear to the fact of his having seen the apparition, 
or something to this effect. I asked him to obtain for me the clerg3rman’s 
account, to whom I had already written before seeing Baron von Driesen 
(though not knowing him), but without receiving an answer — which is but 
natural, after all. Baron von Driesen kindly promised to procure for me the 
account in question, as it was then his intention to visit different estates in 
Central Russia, including the one that had belonged to M. Ponomareff. 

Baron Nicholas von Driesen — Baron Basil’s son — called on me a few days 
ago. He stated, with regard to the case in question, that it was necessary to 
see the clergyman in order to induce him to write an account of what had 
happened to him, 

Baron N. von Driesen afterwards sent a note to Mr. Solovovo, stating 
that his grandfather (M. Ponomareff) died on November 21st, i860; and 



42 CHAPTER VII [723 

the testimony of the priest was obtained later. Mr. Solovovo, who had 
already ascertained independently that the Rev. Basil BajenofF had been 
a priest at Koi in the year i86i, and was there still, writes : — 

The following is the translation of the Rev. Basil BajenofE’s statement : — 

“ Koi, July 2 '^rd [Attgusi 4J?/d, i8gr. 

“ To the account I heard from Baron B. F. Driesen in the presence of his 
wife’s brothers, MM. N. N., A. N., and I. N. Ponomareff, as to how M. Nicholas 
1 . Ponomareff appeared to him in the night of November 29-3oth, i860, having 
died nine days before, and begged of the Baron to be reconciled to him, I may 
add that to me also did he appear at the same time and with the same request, 
which fact, before hearing the Baron’s narrative, I communicated to all those 
present at the liturgy for the rest of the soul of the late M. N. I. Ponomareff. 

‘‘(Signed) Basil Bajenoff, 

“Priest of Trinity Church, at Koi, District of Kashin, 
Government of Tver.” 

723. In this connection I may refer again to Mrs. Storie's dream of the 
death of her brother in a railway accident, given in Chapter IV. (427). 
While I think that Gurney was right — in the state of the evidence at the 
time Phantasms of the Lining was written — in doing his best to bring this 
incident under the head of telepathic clairvoyance, I yet feel that the 
knowledge since gained makes it impossible for me to adhere to that view. 
I cannot regard the visionary scene as wholly reflected from the mind of 
the dying man. I cannot think, in the first place, that the vision of Mr. 
Johnstone, — interpolated with seeming irrelevance among the details of 
the disaster, — did only by accident coincide with the fact that that gentle- 
man really was in the train, and with the further fact that it was he who 
communicated the fact of Mr. Hunter’s death to Mr. and Mrs. Storie. I 
must suppose that the communicating intelligence was aware of Mr. John- 
stone’s presence, and at least guessed that upon him (as a clergyman) that 
task would naturally fall. Nor can I pass over as purely symbolic so im- 
portant a part of the vision as the second figure, and the scrap of conversa- 
tion, which seemed to be half heard. I therefore consider that the case 
falls among those where a friend recently departed appears in company of 
some other friend, dead some time before. 

724. We have thus seen the spirit occupied shortly after death with 
various duties or engagements, small or great, which it has incurred during 
life on earth. Such ties seem to prompt or aid its action upon its old sur- 
roundings. And here an important reflection occurs. Can we prepare 
such a tie for the departing spirit ? Can we create for it some welcome 
and helpful train of association which may facilitate the self-manifestation 
which many souls appear to desire ? I believe that we can to some extent 
do this. At an early stage of our collection, Edmund Gurney was struck 
by the unexpectedly large proportion of cases where the percipient in- 
formed us that there had been a compact between himself and the deceased 
person that whichever passed away first should try to appear to the other. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD- 


43 


725 ] 

Considering,” he adds, ‘‘what an extremely small number of persons 
make such a compact, compared with those who do not, it is difficult to 
resist the conclusion that its existence has a certain efficacy.” 

The cases recorded in Phantasms of the Living are such as fell, or may 
have fallen, within twelve hours of the death ; otherwise they would not 
have been introduced into that work. It will, of course, occur to the reader 
that since the especial object of that compact is to assure the surviving 
friend that the deceased person has safely traversed the gate of death, its 
fulfilment affords some presumption that he is not merely approaching that 
gate, but feels that he has passed it. On the other hand, Gurney remarks, 
that considering how often spontaneous telepathy acts without any con- 
scious set of the distant mind towards the person impressed, it is safer to 
refer the phenomenon to the same sort of blind movements as seem some- 
times at supreme crises to evoke a response out of memories and affinities 
that have long lapsed from consciousness ; on which view the efficacy of 
the compact may quite as readily be conceived to depend on its latent 
place in the percipient’s mind as in the agent’s.” 

Since these words were written the general trend of the evidence has 
somewhat changed ; and it may be well briefly to refer to the compact- 
cases in Phantasms of the Living, considering how far they seem to indicate 
ante-mortem or post-mortem communication. 

725 . Taking the cases as they follow each other in that work, the first 
(vol. i. p. 395) is the well-known incident recorded by Lord Brougham — 
his vision, while taking a warm bath in Sweden, of a school friend from 
whom he had parted many years before, but with whom he had long ago 
committed the folly of drawing up an agreement written with our blood, 
to the effect that whichever of us died first should appear to the other, 
and thus solve any doubts we had entertained of the life after death.” 
This incident happened about 2 a.m. apparently on December 19th 
(possibly on December 20th), 1799. G. died in India on December 
19th, 1799 — pi^ice and hour not stated. The time in any paij of India is, 
of course, several hours ahead of the time in Sweden. In this case the 
time-coincidence cannot be clearly determined. 

The second compact-case in Phantasms of the Living (vol. i. p. 419) 
tells definitely against the assumption that the apparent fulfilment of a 
compact must needs indicate actual death. Captain P. was washed over- 
board at sea ; but though in extreme danger, did not lose consciousness, 
caught hold of a rope, and was saved. On the same night, perhaps at the 
same moment, a lady with whom Captain P. had made a death-compact, 
saw his phantasm in her room. This seems precisely the kind of incident 
which Gurney’s last-quoted sentences have in view. 

The third case (vol, i. p. 427) is remarkable inasmuch as the phan- 
tasmal figure appeared not only to the partner in the compact, but also to 
a child unacquainted with the decedent, but who chanced to be sleeping 
in a room near to that occupied by the said partner. It is not known which 



44 CHAPTER VII [725 

of the two appearances came first ; but to the child the figure appeared as 
though groping its way. The death occurred on the same night, but the 
time-coincidence is not more precisely known. 

In the fourth case^ (vol. i. p. 506) the coincidence is said to have 
been very close : the mother dying at five minutes to three, and the 
son seeing the figure just before the clock struck three. It is, of course, 
impossible to say whether the phantasm preceeded or followed actual 
death. 

The fifth case, again, given in Chapter VI. (667 A), shows us the phan- 
tasm, which had been promised at death, appearing when the agent was still 
alive, but had been stunned by a fall from a coach, which left for some time 
much mental confusion. The case is interesting as showing what may 
be called a ready dissociability of spirit and organism, coincident with 
complete obscuration of the supraliminal consciousness. 

The sixth case is that of Captain Colt of Gartsherrie. I quote this at 
length in 725 A, since it is probable — ^though not certain — that the agent 
had been dead for some hours at the time of the apparition. Allowing for 
difference of time, he had probably been shot in the temple some fourteen 
hours before. He had apparently not moved after he was shot. He had 
been previously wounded in several places, and no surgical aid was attain- 
able. There is here a curious analogy with the narrative of the red scratch 
already given. Captain Colt says, “ I saw ... a wound on the right 
temple with a red stream from it. His face was of a waxy pale tint,’^ &c. 
The red stream ” — the aspect of the body just after death — seems to 
have been made prominent for an evidential purpose. On the dead man’s 
body was found a letter from his brother, the percipient, which begged 
him, if killed in battle, to manifest himself in the very room in which his 
phantasm did actually appear. 

The seventh case (vol. i. p. 531) is that of a half-caste Indian, called 
“Mountain Jim,” over whom the well-known traveller, Mrs. Bishop 
(then Miss Bird), had established a great influence. At their last 
parting he vowed that he would see her again when he died ; and, in 
fact, some hours either before or after his death in Colorado she, being 
in Switzerland, saw his phantasm, and heard the words, “ I have come, as 
I promised.” 

In the eighth case — Chevalier Fenzi’s (vol. ii. p. 63) — the percipient 
had a sudden fit of deep depression, and went out to walk on the sea-shore 
in the midst of a violent thunderstorm. There he thought he saw his 
brother — who was really at Florence, seventy miles off-— walking a little 
way off over some rocks, behind one of which the figure disappeared. 
The brother died at the time. He had not only promised to try to appear 
after death, but had at the same time predicted to Chevalier Fenzi that 

1 Gurney did not give this case an “ evidential number,” regarding it as ambiguous ” 
on account of the anxiety subsisting in the percipient's mind. For the present purpose, 
however, it plainly ought to be taken into consideration. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


45 


726 ] 

he would die within three months. The prediction was fulfilled. It may, 
of course, have had some influence in producing Chevalier Fenzi’s 
experience. 

In the ninth case (vol. ii. p. 253), already referred to above (in 718 ), 
the decedent was still living, but her strong desire had been for a sight 
of the percipient before her own death; and this she appears to have 
attained. 

In the tenth case (which is given at second-hand in vol. ii. p. 477) 
two girl friends exchanged rings, with the promise that the friend who 
died first would restore the ring to the survivor. At about the time when 
the first friend died the surviving friend saw her standing by her bedside, 
and holding out the ring. 

In the eleventh case (in vol. ii. p. 489, which is again at second-hand, 
and very remote) there were three parties to the compact, and two of these 
successively are said to have appeared at about the time of death to the 
last survivor. 

The tivelfth case (vol. ii. p. 496) although second-hand and remote, 
was written down apparently within a year of its occurrence. The time- 
coincidence cannot be exactly known, as the decedent was shipwrecked. 
His appearance was that of a drowned man. 

726 . In three of these twelve cases of fulfilment of compact, then, the 
agent whose phantasm appeared was certainly still alive. In most of the 
other cases the exact time-relation is obscure ; in a few of them there is 
strong probability that the agent was already dead. The inference will 
be that the existence of a promise or compact may act effectively both 
on the subliminal self before death and also probably on the spirit after 
death. 

This conclusion is confirmed by the following cases, of which two 
must be quoted at length in the text, as specially instructive. I first give 
one in which the deceased person’s impulse has been the fulfilment of an 
immediate engagement. 

From Proceedings S. P.R., vol. viii. p. 214. The following letter was 
addressed to the late Professor Adams, Cambridge : — 

St. Luke^s Church, Cer Van Ness Avenue, and Clay Street, 
San Francisco, California, September iith ^ 1890. 

. . . [A few weeks ago] my choir-trainer, a man in robust health 
and with a predisposition against anything Spiritualistic,” saw plainly 
the apparition of one of his choir, a man of fifty years old. It happened 
thus : — 

Mr. R[ussell], the bass-singer of the choir, felUn an apoplectic fit upon the 
street at to o’clock on a certain Friday; he died at ii o’clock at his house. 
My wife, learning of his death, sent my brother-in-law down to the house of 
the choirmaster [Mr. Reeves] to ask him about music for the funeral. The 
messenger reached the house of the choirmaster about 1.30 p.m. He was 
told that the choirmaster was upstairs, busy looking over some music. He 



46 CHAPTER VII [726 

accordingly sat down in the drawing-room, and, while waiting, began to tell 
the ladies (sister and niece of the choirmaster) about Mr. R.’s death. While 
they were talking they heard an exclamation in the hall-way. Some one said, 
“ My God! ” They rushed out, and half-way down, sitting on the stairs, saw 
the choirmaster in his shirt-sleeves, showing signs of great fright and con- 
fusion. As soon as he saw them he exclaimed, ‘‘ I have just seen R. ) The 
niece at once said, “Why, R. is dead!” At this the choirmaster without a 
word turned back upstairs and went to his room. My brother-in-law followed 
him and found him in complete prostration, his face white, &c. He then told 
my brother-in-law what he had experienced. 

He had been looking over some music ; had just selected a “ Te Deum ” 
for the morning service. This “ Te Deum ” closed with a quartette setting for 
two bass and two tenor voices. He was wondering where he could get a 
second tenor. Finally, he went to the door on his way downstairs to look up 
another “Te Deum.” At the door he saw Mr. R., who stood with one hand 
on his brow, and one hand extended, holding a sheet of music. The choir- 
master advanced, extended his hand, and was going to speak, when the 
figure vanished. Then it was that he gave the exclamation mentioned 
above. 

You must remember that he knew nothing of R.’s death until he heard his 
niece speak of it as detailed above. 

This is the best authenticated ghost story I ever heard. I know all the 
parties well, and can vouch for their truthfulness. I have no doubt that the 
choirmaster saw something, either subjectively or objectively. Whatever it 
was, the experience was so vivid that it made him sick for days, though he is a 
man of exceptional physique. 

At fir*st I tried to explain this on natural grounds. I thought possibly he 
had been in the room overhead, and had overheard, unconsciously, the story 
of R.’s death, and by a process of unconscious cerebration summoned up the 
image of the dead man. But this is impossible, because the house is very 
large, the rooms widely apart, &c. 

My present conviction is this : Mr. R. was a man of the utmost regularity 
and faithfulness in fulfilling his duties. He has sung for us without pay for 
many years. His first thought (or one of the first), after his stroke of apoplexy, 
must have been : “ How shall I get word to the choirmaster that I cannot go 
to rehearsal to-morrow night?” In an hour he died, without ever having 
recovered consciousness. My notion is that in some way he was enabled 
to make himself appear to the choirmaster. If you refer to the attitude in 
which he appeared, you will see that it answers to my supposition. It indicates 
his illness (a pain in the head), and his desire to give up, so to speak, his duty 
as singer. . . . Wm. W. Davis, Rector. 

Mr. Reeves' own account is reported in the San Francisco Chronicle 
(quoted in Lights September 27th, 1890), as follows: — 

Early on Friday morning Edwin Russell, an Englishman, well known as a 
real estate agent, was walking near the corner of Sutter and Mason Streets 
when he sustained an apoplectic stroke, from the effects of which he died 
shortly before noon. He had resided in the city ten years, and was well and 
favourably known in the commercial world here. 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


726] 


47 


Mr. Russell was a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and also 
the possessor of a rich bass voice. This made him a welcome addition to the 
choir of St. Luke’s Church, and brought him in immediate contact with the 
Rev. W. W. Davis, vicar of the church, and with Harry E. Reeves, the 
recently appointed choir leader. Mr. Reeves is a nephew of the distinguished 
English tenor of the name, and conducted the musical services at the funeral 
of President Chester A. Arthur. 

It was to Mr. Reeves that the very sensational and startling revelation 
now to be recorded was vouchsafed. Mr. Reeves was found at the residence 
of his sister, Mrs. Cavanagh, 2121 California Street, by a Chronicle reporter. 
He became evidently agitated when asked if it were true that he had seen the 
apparition of Russell before hearing of the latter’s death. [Mr. Reeves stated 
that he was not a Spiritualist, and proceeded] : — 

“ I last saw Russell alive on the Saturday night previous to his death. 
Russell came to the choir rehearsal. I said to him : ‘ Do you know where I 
can get a good cigar ? ’ and he recommended a place.- I went there with him, 
and then took such a fancy to him that I invited him to come to my house, or 
rather my sister’s house. We agreed to postpone his visit till the following 
Saturday, and he said: ^ Well, I’ll call on you next week anyhow.’ The 
matter passed from my mind until Friday afternoon, about three o’clock. I 
always make it a point to look over my music for Sunday a day or two before, 
and on this occasion I was sitting in the parlour and took up two Te Deums 
to make a choice. One was Starkweather’s in G, the other a composition of 
Kroell’s. Just as I had taken one in my hand and was going upstairs to my 
room to look over it I heard the front door bell ring, and recognised that 
some visitor whom I did not then know had called. I afterwards learned 
that it was young Mr. Sprague, who can tell you his story when you ask 
him. 

** I went into my room. I lay down on the lounge for a moment, then by 
an impulse I cannot account for, I walked to the door. The head of the stair- 
way was somewhat dimly lighted, as you see it now, but not so dimly but what 
I could at once see what appeared to be the figure of Russell. It was so real, so 
lifelike, that I at once stepped forward and stretched out my hand, and was 
about to speak some words of welcome. 

The figure seemed to have a roll of music in one hand and the other over 
its face, but it was Russell’s image. I am quite sure of that. As I advanced 
to the head of the stairway the figure seemed to turn, as if about to descend, 
and faded into the air. 

“ I remember trying to speak to the figure, but the tongue clung to the 
roof of my mouth. Then I fell against the wall and gasped out. ‘ Ah ! My 
God!’ just like that. My sister and niece, with the other folks, came up. 
My niece said, ‘Uncle Harry, what’s the matter.?’ I went on to explain 
what it was, but was so scared I could hardly speak. My niece said, ‘ Don’t 
you know Russell is dead?’ Well, that flabbergasted me; it only made 
matters worse, and I nearly fainted. Then they told me that the Rev. Mr. 
Davis had sent Mr. Sprague to tell me of the sad news. I was terribly 
startled by the affair, and feel shaky even now, but I am not given to super- 
stitious fears, and I suppose it can be explained. Mr. Sprague had been 
waiting nearly half-an-hour before I saw him and obtained corroboration of 
the news of Russell’s death. It is very strange; very strange, indeed. I saw 
that man Russell after he must have been dead three hours at least, as plainly 
as I see you in that chair.” 



48 CHAPTER VII [727 

Mr. Reeves confirms this account in a letter to Dr. Hodgson as 
follows : — 


San Francisco, September 1890. 

Dear Sir,— W ith reference to your favour of the 5th inst, just received, the 
full particulars were given in city papers; some things not just exactly as 
stated, especially the word “ flabbergasted,” which is foreign to me. 

Apart from what you read, there is nothing more to be given. 

H. E. Reeves. 

Dr. Hodgson received the following independent and corroborative 
account from Mr. Sprague : — 


Grand Forks, Dak., November igtk, 1890, 

. , . You probably know all about Mr. Russell’s death and connection with 
St Luke’s Church, so I shall only give you the facts as they came to my 
knowledge. 

On Friday noon, August 22nd, a young lady friend of the Russells came to 
my brother-in-law’s (Mr- Davis’) house and asked to see Mr. Davis. As Mr. 
Davis was out, his wife (my sister) saw this young lady. I was not present at 
the interview, but my sister told me shortly afterwards the facts of Mr. Russell’s 
death, &c., and said that this young lady had come to ask Mr. Davis if the 
church choir would be willing to sing at Mr. Russell’s funeral, as Mr. R.’s family 
were of limited means and could not afford to pay the choir. 

As I was going to Mr. Reeves’ house that afternoon my sister asked me to 
tell Mr. Reeves about RusselFs death and ask him about the singing. I called 
at 1221 California Street about three o’clock that afternoon, and had been 
in the parlour some twenty minutes talking with Miss Kavanagh (Mr. 
Reeves’ niece), when we heard Mr. Reeves’ exclamation on the stairs, and I 
followed Miss Kavanagh to see what the trouble was. We found Mr. R. sitting 
on the stairs in his shirt sleeves and evidently very much frightened. Miss K. 
brought him a glass of wine, also a glass of water, but I think he did not touch 
either. After a couple of minutes Mr. R. went up to his room, and Miss 
Kavanagh asked me to go up and see if he was all right, as she was afraid to 
go. I went up and found Mr. Reeves sitting down on a chair near the window 
with his legs crossed. He had no coat or vest, collar or necktie on, and the 
perspiration seemed to roll off him. He seemed greatly agitated, but in a few 
minutes he told me his story, and I left him. In about five minutes he came 
downstairs and began to talk about it, and continually said, It is the strangest 
thing ; I can’t understand it.” Goldwin S- Sprague. 

727. The next case is even more remarkable. It is a deflected fulfil- 
ment, occurring two days before death, and probably during sleep ; the 
agent has made a promise to one friend, but is only perceptible to 
another person who happens to be in that friend’s company. We may 
compare a case quoted in our last chapter, where a brother, presumably 
wishing to appear to his sister, is perceived only by the sister’s black nurse 
(see section 651). The following is quoted from the Report on the 
Census of Hallucinations ” in Proceedings S.P.R,, vol. x. p. 284. 



727] 


PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 

From Countess Eug^inie Kapnist, 


49 


June 24//^, 1891. 

A Talta, en F^vrier, 1889, nous ffmes la connaissance de M. P. et de sa 
femme, passant la soiree chez des amis communs qui avaient tenu k nous 
rdunir. A cette dpoque, M. P. souffrait ddjk d’une phthisic assez avancde; 
il venait de perdre, k Pdtersbourg, son frkre, atteint de la m^me maladie. 
On pria ma soeur de faire un peu de musique, et elle choisit au hasard le 
Prdlude de Mendelssohn. A mon dtonnement je vis M. P., que nous ne 
connaissions, que de ce soir, aller, trks dmotionnd, prendre place aupr^s du 
piano, et suivre avec une espkce d’anxidtd le jeu de ma soeur. Lorsqu’elle 
eut fini, il dit que pour quelques instants elle venait de faire ressusciter son 
frkre, executant absolument de la m^me manikre ce morceau, qu’il jouait 
frdquemment. Depuis, en voyant ma sceur, il aimait parti culi^rement k causer 
avec elle. Je puis certifier ainsi qu’elle une conversation que nous eumes k 
une soirde, au mois de Mars. Nous parlions de la mort, chose frdquente k 
Talta, toujours peuplde de malades : — ‘‘ Savez-vous,” disait-il k ma soeur, ‘'il me 
semble toujours que mon esprit est trks proche du v6tre ; j^ai la certitude de 
vous avoir ddjk connue ; nous avons dans la rdalitd une preuve que ce n’est pas 
en ce monde — ce sera que je vous aurais vue durant quelqu’autre vie prdcddente ” 
(il dtait un peu spirite). “ Ainsi done, si je meurs avant vous, ce qui est bien 
probable, vu ma maladie, je reviendrai vers vous, si cela m’est possible, et je 
vous apparattrai de faqon k ne pas vous effrayer ddsagrdablement.’* Ma sceur 
lui rdpondit, prenant la chose trks au sdrieux, qu’elle lui rendrait la pareille si 
elle mourait la premikre, et jMtais tdmoin de cette promesse mutuelle. 

Ndanmoins nous fimes k peine connaissance de maison; nous nous 
rencontrions parfois chez des amis communs, et nous le voyions souvent se 
promener sur le quai dans un paletot couleur noisette qui excitait notre hilaritd 
et qui nous resta dans la mdmoire je ne sais plus pourquoi. Au mois de Mai, 
nous pardons de Talta, et depuis nous eilmes tant d’impressions diverses, nous 
vtmes tant de monde, que jusqu’k Thiver suivant nous oubliimes compldtement 
M. P. et sa femme, qui reprdsentaient pour nous des connaissances comme on 
en a par centaines dans la vie. 

Nous dtions k Pdtersbourg, Le n Mars, c’dtait un lundi de Car^me en 
1890, nous allkmes au thditre voir une representation de la troupe des 
Meiningner. Je crois qu’on donnait Le Marchand de Ventse, Mile. B. dtait 
avec nous, venue de Tsarskod k cette occasion. La pi^ce terminde, nous 
n’edmes que le temps de rentrer k la maison changer de toilette, aprds quoi 
nous accompagnimes Mile. B. k la gare. Elle partait avec le dernier train, 
qui quitte pour Tsarskod Sdlo k i heure de la nuit. Nous Finstallames en 
wagon, et ne Vy laisskmes qu’aprks la seconde cloche de ddpart. 

Notre domestique allait bien en avant de nous, afin de retrouver notre 
voiture, de manikre que, gagnant le perron, nous la trouvkmes avanede qui 
nous attendait. Ma soeur s’assit la premidre ; moi je la fis attendre, descen- 
dant plus doucement les marches de Tescalier ; le domestique tenait la portidre 
du landau ouverte. Je montai k demi, sur le marchepied, et soudain je 
m'arrdtai dans cette pose, tellement surprise que je ne compris plus ce qui 
m’arrivait. Il faisait sombre dans la voiture, et pourtant en face de ma soeur, 
la regardant, je vis dans un petit jour gris qu’on cht dit factice, s’dclaircissant 
vers le point qui attach ait le plus mes yeux, une figure k la silhouette dmoussde 
diaphane, plutdt qu’inddcise. Cette vision dura un instant, pendant lequel, 
VOL. IL U 



CHAPTER VII 


SO 


[727 


pourtant, mes yeux prirent connaissance des moindres details de ce visage, qui 
me sembla connu : des traits assez pointus, une raie un peu de c6td, un nez 
prononcd, un menton tr^s maigre k barbe rare et d’un blond foncd. Ce qui me 
frappe, lorsque j’y pense b. present, c’est d'avoir vu les diffdrentes couleurs, 
malgrd que la lueur grisitre, qui dclairait k peine I’inconnu, eut dtd insuffisante 
pour les distinguer dans un cas normal. II dtait sans chapeau, et en m^me 
temps dans un paletot comme on en porte au sud— de couleur plut6t claire — 
noisette. Toute sa personne avait un cachet de grande fatigue et de maigreur. 

Le domestique, tr^s dtonnd de ne pas me voir monter, arr^tde ainsi sur le 
marchepied, crut que j’avais marchd dans ma robe et m’aida k m^asseoir, 
pendant que je demandais k ma soeur, en prenant place k c6td d’elle, si c’dtait 
bien notre voiture? A tel point j^avais perdu la tete, ayant senti un vrai 
engourdissement de cerveau en voyant cet dtranger install^ en face d'elle, je 
ne m’dtais pas rendu compte que, dans le cas d’une presence rdelle d’un 
semblable vis-k-vis, ni ma soeur, ni le valet de pied ne resteraient si calme- 
ment k Tenvisager. Lorsque je fus assise, je ne vis plus rien, et je demandais 
k ma sceur :-~“N’as-tu rien vu en face de toi?” Rien du tout, et quelle 
idde as-tu eue de demander, en entrant dans la voiture, si c’dtait bien la 
ndtre ? ” rdpondit-elle en riant. Alors, je lui racontais tout ce qui pr^cdde, 
ddcrivant minutieusement ma vision. “ Quelle figure connue,” disait-elle, et 
k paletot noisette, cette raie de c6td, ou done Pavons nous vue ? Pourtant nul 
ne ressemble ici k ta description ; ” et nous nous creusions la t6te sans rien 
trouver. Rentrdes k la maison, nous racontkmes ce fait k notre m^re; ma 
description la fit aussi souvenir vaguement d’un visage analogue. Le lende- 
main soir (12 Mars) un jeune homme de notre connaissance, M. M. S., vint 
nous voir. Je lui rdpdtais aussi Pincident qui nous dtait arrivd. Nous en 
pajflkmes beaucoup, mais inutilement; je ne pouvais toujours pas appliquer 
le nom voulu k la personnalitd de ma vision, tout en me souvenant fort bien 
avoir vu un visage tout pareil parmi mes nombreuses connaissances ; mais 
ou et k quelle dpoque.^ Je ne me souvenais de rien, avec ma mauvaise 
mdmoire qui me fait souvent ddfaut, k ce sujet. Quelques jours plus tard, nous 
dtions chez la grandm^re de M. M. S. : — “ Savez vous,” nous dit-elle, ** quelle 
triste nouvelle je viens de recevoir de Talta.? M. P. vient de mourir, mais 
on ne me donne pas de details.” Ma sceur et moi, nous nous regardkmes. 
A ce nom, la figure pointue et le paletot noisette retrouv^rent leur possesseur. 
Ma sceur reconnut en m^me temps que moi, grace k ma description precise. 
Lorsque M. M. S. entra, je le priai de chcrcher dans les vieux journaux la 
date exacte de cette mort. Le ddeks dtait marqud au 14 du mois de Mars, 
done, deux jours aprh la vision que j’avais eue. J’dcrivis k Talta pour avoir 
des renseignements. On me r^pondit qu’il gardait le lit depuis le 24 
Novembre et qu’il avait 6 t 6 depuis dans un dtat de faiblesse extreme, mais le 
sommeil ne Pavait point quittd; il dormait si longtemps et si profond^ment, 
m^me durant les derni^res nuits de son existence, que cela faisait espdrer une 
amelioration. Nous nous 6tonnions de ce que j’aie vu M. P., malgrd sa 
promesse de se montrer k ma sceur. Mais je dois ajouter ici qu’avant le fait 
dderit ci-dessus, j’avais dte voyante un certain nombre de fois, mais cette 
vision est bien celle que j’ai distingude le plus nettement, avec des ddtails 
minutieux, et avec les teintes diverses du visage humain, et mtoe du 
vdtement 

COMTESSE EuOlfeNIE KaPNIST. 

COMTESSE InA KAPNIST, 



729] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD Sr 

The second signature is that of the sister who was present at the time, 

Mr. Michael Petrovo-Solovovo, who sent us the case, writes : — 

I have much pleasure in certifying that the fact of Countess Kapnist^s 
vision was mentioned, among others, to myself before the news of Mr. P.’s 
death came to Petersburg. I well remember seeing an announcement of his 
demise in the papers. 

This case suggests an important practical reflection. When a compact 
to appear, if possible, after death is made, it should be understood that 
the appearance need not be to the special partner in the compact, but to 
any one whom the agent can succeed in impressing. It is likely 
enough that many such attempts, which have failed on account of the 
surviving friend’s lack of appropriate sensitivity, might have succeeded if 
the agent had tried to influence some one already known to be capable 
of receiving these impressions. I add in 727 A and B two other cases 
which may be regarded as deflected fulfilments. See also a case given 
in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 440, in which a lady, having made a com- 
pact with her husband and also with a friend, her phantom is seen after 
her death by her husband and daughter and the latter’s nurse, collec- 
tively \ but not by the friend, who was living elsewhere. 

728. Again, we cannot tell how long the spirit may continue the 
effort, or, so to say, renew the experiment. In a case recorded in Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. X. p, 378, the compact is fulfilled after a space of 
five years. In another case (given in 728 A), there had been no formal 
compact; yet the narrative may find place here. There is an attempt 
to express gratitude on an anniversary of death ; and this implies the 
same kind of mindful effort as the fulfilment of a definite promise. 

I conclude this group by quoting in 728 B another compact case 
where the apparition coincides with a funeral, and itself indicates that a 
funeral is preparing. This forms a transition to the next group. 

729. I have now traced certain post-mortem manifestations which 
reveal a recollection of events known at death, and also a persistence of 
purpose in carrying out intentions formed before death. In this next 
group I shall trace the knowledge of the departed a little further, and shall 
discuss some cases where they appear cognisant of the aspect of their 
bodies after death, or of the scenes in which those bodies are temporarily 
deposited or finally laid. Such knowledge may appear trivial, — unworthy 
the attention of spirits transported into a higher world. But it is in 
accordance with the view of a gradual transference of interests and per- 
ceptions, — a period of intermediate confusion, such as may follow espe- 
cially upon a death of a sudden or violent kind, or perhaps upon a death 
which interrupts very strong affections. 

Thus we have already (in 717) encountered one striking case of this 
type, — the scratch on the cheek, perceived by the departed daughter, as 
we may conjecture, by reason of the close sympathy which united her to 
the mother who was caring for her remains. 



CHAPTER VII 


S2 


[730 


There are also two cases closely resembling each other, though from 
percipients in widely different parts of the world, where a clairvoyant 
vision seems to be presented of a tranquil death-chamber. One of these 
has been quoted in Chapter VI., section 664. In the other (that of Mr. 
Hector of Valencia, South Australia, see Phantasms of the Livings vol. i. 
p. 353) the percipient sees in a dream his father dying in the room he 
usually occupied, with a candle burning on a chair by his bed ; and the 
father is found dead in the morning, with a candle by his bedside in the 
position seen in the dream. Perhaps in neither of these cases is there 
any sure indication that the dead or dying person was cognisant of his 
own body’s aspect or surroundings. There may have been a clairvoyant 
excursion on the percipient’s part, evoked by some impulse from the 
agent which did not itself develop into distinctness. 

730 . But in certain cases of violent death there seems to have been 
an intention on the deceased person’s part to show the condition in which 
his body is left. Such was Mrs. Storie’s dream, or rather series of visions, 
referred to earlier in this chapter. Such, too, was Mrs. Menneer’s dream 
(429 A), where the additional evidence obtained since our first publica- 
tion of the case brings out a special meaning in the severed head, beyond 
the mere fact of decapitation. Such was an equally striking dream, which 
I have left for quotation in this place, because it forms a link between this 
group — where fost-moriem knowledge of the body’s aspect is in ques- 
tion — and the next following group, which will deal with the still stranger 
phenomenon of post-mortem knowledge of dissemination of the news of 
death. The case is taken from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. (1885 ) p. 95. 

Mr. D., the narrator, did not wish his name to be published, but 
Gurney saw him, and talked over the subject with him. Mr. D. narrates 
as follows : — 


I am the owner of a very old mechanical business in Glasgow, with for 
twenty years past a branch in London, where I have resided for that period, 
and in both of which places my professional reputation is of the highest order. 

Some thirty-five years ago I took into my employment a tender, delicate- 
looking boy, Robert Mackenzie, who, after some three or four years' service, 
suddenly left, as I found out afterwards, through the selfish advice of older 
hands, who practised this frightening away systematically to keep wages 
from being lowered, —a common device, I believe, among workmen in 
limited trades. Passing the gate of the great workhouse \Scottici poor- 
house) in the Parliamentary Road, a few years afterwards, my eye was 
caught by a youth of some eighteen years of age ravenously devouring a 
piece of dry bread on the public street, and bearing all the appearance of 
being in a chronic state of starvation. Fancying I knew his features, I 
asked if his name were not Mackenzie. He at once became much excited, 
addressed me by name, and informed me that he had no employment; 
that his father and mother, who formerly supported him, were now both 
inmates of the “poorhouse,” to which he himself had no claim for admis- 
sion, being young and without any bodily disqualification for work, and 
that he was literally homeless and starving. The matron, he informed me, 



730] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 53 

gave him daily a piece of dry bread, but durst not, under the rules, give him 
regular maintenance. In an agony of grief he deplored his ever leaving me 
under evil advice, and on my unexpectedly offering to take him back he burst 
into a transport of thanks, such as I cannot describe. Suffice it to say that he 
resumed his work, and that, under the circumstances, I did everything in my 
power to facilitate his progress. All this was mere matter of course ; but the 
distinction between it and the common relations of master and servant was this, 
that on every occasion of my entering the workshop he never, so far as possible, 
took off his eyes from following my movements. Let me look towards him at 
any moment, there was the pale, sympathetic face with the large and wistful 
eyes, literally yearning towards me, as Smike’s did towards Nicholas Nickleby. 
I seemed to be “ the polar star of his existence,” and this intensity of gratitude 
never appeared to lessen in degree through lapse of time. Beyond this he 
never ventured to express his feelings. His manhood, as it were, his indivi- 
duality and self-assertion, seemed to have been crushed out of him by priva- 
tions. I was apparently his sole thought and consideration, saving the more 
common concerns of daily life. 

In 1862 I settled in London, and have never been in Glasgow since. Robert 
Mackenzie, and ray workmen generally, gradually lost their individuality in my 
recollection. About ten to twelve years ago my employees had their annual 
soiree and ball. This was always held, year after year, on a Friday evening. 
Mackenzie, ever shy and distant as usual, refused to mingle in the festivities, 
and begged of my foreman to be permitted to serve at the buffet All went off 
well, and the Saturday was held {jnore workmen) as a succeeding day of fes- 
tival. All this, however, I only learned after what I am now about to relate. 
On the Tuesday morning following, immediately before 8 a.m., in my house 
on Campden Hill, I had the following manifestation — I cannot call it a dream ; 
but let me use the common phraseology. I dreamt, but with no vagueness as 
in common dreams, no blurring of outline or rapid passages from one thing dis- 
connectedly to another, that I was seated at a desk, engaged in a business 
conversation with an unknown gentleman, who stood on my right hand. 
Towards me, in front, advanced Robert Mackenzie, and feeling annoyed, I 
addressed him with some asperity, asking him if he did not see that I was 
engaged. He retired a short distance with exceeding reluctance, turned again 
to approach me, as if most desirous for an immediate colloquy, when I spoke 
to him still more sharply as to his want of manners. On this, the person with 
whom I was conversing took his leave, and Mackenzie once more came forward, 
“ What is all this, Robert? ” I asked somewhat angrily, ‘‘ Did you not see I 
was engaged ? ” “ Yes, sir,” he replied ; “but I must speak with you at once.” 
“What about?” I said; “what is it that can be so important? ” “ I wish to 
tell you, sir,” he answered, ^*that I am accused of doing a thing I did not 
do, and that I want you to know it, and to tell you so, and that you are to 
forgive me for what I am blamed for, because I am innocent.” Then, “ I did 
not do the thing they say I did.” I said, “What?” getting same answer. I 
then naturally asked, “ But how can I forgive you if you do not tell me what 
you are accused of ? ” I can never forget^^^the emphatic manner of his answer 
in the Scottish dialect, “ Ye’ll sune ken ” (you’ll soon know). This question and 
the answer were repeated at least twice — I am certain the answer was repeated 
thrice, in the most fendd tone. On that I awoke, and was in that state of 
surprise and bewilderment which such a remarkable dream, qud, mere dream, 
might induce, and was wondering what it all meant, when my wife burst into 



CHAPTER VII 


54 


[730 


my bedroom, much excited, and holding an open letter in her hand, exclaimed, 
“ Oh, James, here’s a terrible end to the workmen’s ball— Robert Mackenzie has 
committed suicide ! ” With now a full conviction of the meaning of the vision, 
I at once quietly and firmly said, ^‘No, he has not committed suicide.” 
“How can you possibly know that?” “Because he has just been here to 
tell me.” 

I have purposely not mentioned in its proper place, so as not to break the 
narrative, that on looking at Mackenzie I was struck by the peculiar appear- 
ance of his countenance. It was of an indescribable bluish-pale colour, and on 
his forehead appeared spots which seemed like blots of sweat. For this I 
could not account, but by the following post my manager informed me that he 
was wrong in writing me of suicide. That on Saturday night, Mackenzie, on 
going home, had lifted a small black bottle containing aqtia fortis (which he 
used for staining the wood of birdcages, made for amusement), believing this 
to be whisky, and pouring out a wine-glassful, had drunk it off at a gulp, dying 
on the Sunday in great agony. Here then, was the solution of his being 
innocent of what he was accused of — suicide, seeing that he had inadvertently 
drunk aqua fortis^ a deadly poison. Still pondering upon the peculiar colour 
of his countenance, it struck me to consult some authorities on the symptoms of 
poisoning by aqua fortis^ and in Mr. J. H. Walsh’s “Domestic Medicine and 
Surgery,” p. 172 , 1 found these words under symptoms of poisoning by sulphuric 
acid. . . . “ The skin covered with a cold sweat ; countenance livid and ex- 
pressive of dreadful suffering.” . . . “ Aqua fortis produces the same effect as 
sulphuric, the only difference being that the extern^ stains, if any, are yellow 
instead of brown.” This refers to indication of sulphuric acid, “generally out- 
side of the mouth, in the shape of brown spots.” Having no desire to 
accommodate my facts to this scientific description, I give the quotations freely, 
only at the same time stating that previously to reading the passage in Mr, 
Walsh’s book, I had not the slightest knowledge of these symptoms, and I 
consider that they agree fairly and sufficiently with what I saw, viz., a livid 
face covered with a remarkable sweat, and having spots (particularly on the 
forehead), which, in my dream, I thought great blots of perspiration. It seems 
not a little striking that I had no previous knowledge of these symptoms, and 
yet should take note of them. 

I have little remark to make beyond this, that in speaking of this matter, 
to me very affecting and solemn, I have been quite disgusted by sceptics 
treating it as a hallucination, in so far as that my dream must have been on 
the Wednesday morning, being that after the receipt of my manager’s letter 
informing me of the supposed suicide. This explanation is too absurd to 
require a serious answer. My manager first heard of the death on the Monday 
— wrote me on that day as above— and on the Tuesday wrote again explaining 
the true facts. The dream was on the Tuesday morning, immediately before 
the 8 A.M. post delivery, hence the thrice emphatic “ Ye’ll sune ken.” I attribute 
the whole to Mackenzie’s yearning gratitude for being rescued from a deplor- 
able state of starvation, and his earnest desire to stand well in my opinion, I 
have coloured nothing, and leave my readers to draw their own conclusions# 

D# 

The following is Mrs. D.’s corroboration : — 


In regard to the remarkable dream my husband had when Robert 
Mackenzie’s death took place through inadvertently drinking some aqua fortis^ 
I beg to inform you of what took place as far as I am concerned. 



55 


733] PHANTASMS OF THE 'DEAD 

On the Tuesday morning after the occurrence I was downstairs early, and 
at 8 o’clock was handed a letter, just received from the postman, and addressed 
to Mr. D. Seeing it was from our manager in Glasgow, I opened it, and was 
much grieved to find that it was to tell us that Robert Mackenzie had com- 
mitted suicide. I ran upstairs to Mr. D.’s bedroom with the letter in my hand, 
and in much excitement. I found him apparently just coming out of sleep, and 
hastily cried out to him, exactly as he has described to you. I need not go 
over the words, which have often been repeated amongst us since, and I can 
confirm his narrative regarding them, as given to you, in every particular. The 
whole afEair gave us a great shock, and put an end to the workmen’s balls for 
some four or five years. Mr. D.’s dream was a frequent subject of conversation 
at the time. I knew Mackenzie well. He was a pale, large-eyed, and earnest- 
looking young man, with a great regard for Mr. D., through circumstances. 
The next day’s post brought us the actual facts. 

J. D. 

731. Here, too, may be placed two cases — those of Dr. Bruce (in 
Chapter IV., 426 A) and Miss Hall (see 731 A) — where there are successive 
pictures of a death and the subsequent arrangement of the body. The 
milieux of the percipients, the nature of the deaths, are here again totally 
disparate ; yet we seem to see the same unknown laws producing effects 
closely similar. 

In Dr. Bruce’s case one might interpret the visions as coming to the 
percipient through the mind of his wife, who was present at the scene of 
the murder. But this explanation would be impossible in Miss HaU’s 
case. Rather it seems as though some telepathic link, set up between 
the dying brother and the sister, had been maintained after death 
until all duties had been fulfilled to the departed. The case reminds 
one of the old Homeric notions of the restless appeal of unburied 
comrades. 

732. In the case of Mrs. Green, already quoted in Chapter IV., 429 D, 
we come across an interesting problem. Two women are drowned under 
very peculiar circumstances. A friend has apparently a clairvoyant vision 
of the scene, yet not at the moment when it occurred, but many hours 
afterwards, and about the time when another person, deeply interested, 
heard of the death. It is therefore possible to suppose that the 
apparently clairvoyant scene was in reality impressed telepathically on 
the percipient by another living mind. I think, however, that both the 
nature of the vision and certain analogies, which will appear later in our 
argument, point to a different view, involving an agency both of the dead 
and of the living. I conjecture that a current of influence may be started 
by a deceased person, which, however, only becomes strong enough to be 
perceptible to its object when reinforced by some vivid current of emotion 
arising in living minds, I do not say that this is yet provable ; yet the 
hint may be of value when the far-reaching interdependencies of telepathy 
between the two worlds come to be better understood. 

733. Two singular cases in this group remain, where the departed 



CHAPTER VII 


56 


[734 


spirit, long after death, seems pre-occupied with the spot where his bones 
are laid. The first of these cases (see 733 A) approaches farce ; the 
second (in which the skeleton of a man who had probably been murdered 
about forty years before was discovered by means of a dream; see 
Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 35) stands alone among our narratives in 
the tragedy which follows on the communication. Mr. Podmore in an 
article in the same volume (p. 303) suggests other theories to account for 
this case without invoking the agency of the dead ; but to me the least 
impossible explanation is still the notion that the murdered man’s dreams 
harked back after all those years to his remote unconsecrated grave. I 
may refer further to another case (in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 155, 
footnote) where feelings of horror and depression were constantly experi- 
enced in a room over which a baby’s body was afterwards found. This 
case makes, perhaps, for another explanation — depending not so much on 
any continued influence of the departed spirit as on some persistent influ- 
ence inhering in the bones themselves — deposited under circumstances of 
terror or anguish, and possibly in some way still radiating a malignant 
memory. Bizarre as this interpretation looks, we shall find some con- 
firmation of such a possibility in our chapter on Possession. Yet another 
case belonging to the same group, and given in 733 B, supplies a variant 
on this view; suggesting, as Edward Gurney has remarked, the local 
imprintation of a tragic picture, by whom and upon what we cannot tell. 

I think it well to suggest even these wild conjectures ; so long as they 
are understood to be conjectures and nothing more. I hold it probable 
that those communications, of which telepathy from one spirit to another 
forms the most easily traceable variety, are in reality infinitely varied and 
complex, and show themselves from time to time in forms which must for 
long remain quite beyond our comprehension. 

734. The next class of cases in this series well illustrates this 
unexpectedness. It has only been as the result of a gradual accumulation 
of concordant cases that I have come to believe there is some reality in 
the bizarre supposition that the departed spirit is sometimes specially 
aware of the time at which news of his death is about to reach some 
given friend. Proof of such knowledge on his part is rendered harder by 
the alternative possibility that the friend may by clairvoyance become 
aware of a letter in his own proximity. As was shown in Phantasms of 
the Living, there is some evidence for such clairvoyance even in cases 
where the letter seen is quite unimportant (see also 421 H and J and 
656 B). May there be here also some conjuncture of the spheres of 
knowledge of the departed and the incarnate spirits, so that a glimpse ob- 
tained by the one in some way reinforces a glimpse obtained by the other? 

I quote a typically difficult instance of this coincidence of an 
apparition with the arrival of the news of a death. 

From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 409, The case was sent to us by 
the Bishop of Carlisle, the percipient being the Rev, G. M, Tandy, vicar 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


735] 


57 


of West Ward, near Wigton, Cumberland, formerly of Loweswater, who 
writes : — ^ 


When at Loweswater, I one day called upon a friend, who said, “ You do 
not see many newspapers; take one of those lying there/’ I accordingly took 
up a newspaper bound with a wrapper, put it into my pocket, and walked home. 
In the evening I was writing, and wanting to refer to a book, went into 
another room where my books were. I placed the candle on a ledge of the 
bookcase, took down a book and found the passage I wanted, when, happening 
to look towards the window, which was opposite to the bookcase, I saw the face 
of an old friend whom I had known well at Cambridge, but had not seen for 
ten years or more, Canon Robinson (of the Charity and School Commission). 
I was so sure I saw him that I went out to look for him, but could find no trace 
of him. I went back into the house, and thought I would take a look at my news- 
paper. I tore off the wrapper, unfolded the paper, and the first piece of news 
that I saw was the death of Canon Robinson ! ^ 


Mr. Tandy further writes : — 

In reply to your note, October 6th, I may state, with regard to the narrative 
I detailed to the Bishop of Carlisle, that I saw the face looking through the 
window, by the light of a single Ozokerit candle, placed on a ledge of the book- 
case, which stood opposite the window; that I was standing, with the candle 
by my side, reading from a book to which I had occasion to refer, and raising 
my eyes as I read, I saw the face clearly and distinctly, ghastly pale, but with 
the features so marked and so distinct that I recognised it at once as the face 
of my most dear and intimate friend, the late Canon Robinson, who was with 
me at school and college, and whom I had not seen for many years past (ten or 
eleven at the very least). Almost immediately after, fully persuaded that my 
old friend had come to pay me a surprise visit, I rushed to the door, but seeing 
nothing I called aloud, searched the premises most carefully, and made inquiry 
as to whether any stranger had been seen near my house, but no one had been 
heard of or seen. When last I saw Canon Robinson he was apparently in 
perfect health, much more likely to outlive me than I him, and before I opened 
the newspaper announcing his death (which I did about an hour or so after 
seeing the face) I had not heard or read of his illness or death, and there was 
nothing in the passage of the book I was reading to lead me to think of him. 

The time at which I saw the face was between ten and eleven p.m., the 
night dark, and I was reading in a room where no shutter was closed or blind 
drawn. 

I may answer in reply to your question — ‘‘ whether I have ever had any other 
vision or hallucination of any kind ? ” — that, though I never saw any apparition, 
I have heard mysterious noises which neither my friends nor I were able satis- 
factorily to account for. 

735. This incident, taken alone and without any apparent connection 
with other forms of action of the departed, seems almost too quaint to be 
included in a more or less coherent series like the present. But a hint 

1 The narrative is undated, but the first part of it was printed in thx^ Journal S.P.R. 
for January 1885. 

* As we do not know what newspaper this was, it is not possible to ascertain the 
precise interval which had elapsed since the death. 



CHAPTER VII 


S8 


[736 


towards its comprehension is given by certain other cases where the per- 
cipient states that a cloud of unreasonable depression fell upon him about 
the time of his friend’s death at a distance, and continued until the actual 
news arrived ; when, instead of becoming intensified, it lifted suddenly. 
In one or two such cases there was an actual presence or apparition, which 
seemed to hang about until the news arrived, and then disappeared. 
Or, on the other hand, there is sometimes a happy vision of the departed 
preluding the news, as though to prepare the percipient’s mind for the 
shock (735 A). The suggested inference is that in such cases the spirit’s 
attention is more or less continuously directed to the survivor until the 
news reaches him. This does not, of course, explain how the spirit learns 
as to the arrival of the news ; yet it makes that piece of knowledge seem a 
less isolated thing. 

736 . And here I will quote a case so divergent from accepted types 
that the ordinary retailer of ghost stories might well be tempted to pass it 
over in silence as incomprehensibly absurd. As will presently be seen, 
however, it fits with singular appropriateness into just this place in ray series. 

The case was sent to Professor James, and I quote it from Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 2 20. 

, Wis., September 22nd, 1890. 

A very unusual thing occurred to the writer and one other person— my 

sister, Miss Mary Q.— at the city of , Wisconsin, on the 5th day of 

November 1885, at lo o’clock p.m. 

Our mother, Mrs. Mary Margaret Q, R., died at our home, in said city of 

, Wisconsin, on the above date, at 8.40 P.M., very suddenly, of pneumonia. 

Our youngest half-brother, Robert B, R., was working at S , N. Dakota, at 

that time, about 700 miles distant from , Wisconsin. At 9.45 we retired to 

the guests’ chamber, a room over the south parlour, and about the same 
dimensions as said parlour, having two windows to the south and one to the 
east. There were two beds in this large room, and I lay on one and my sister 
on the other, trying to compose our broken hearts, for we loved our mother very 
dearly. The night was cold and the windows were all closed, except’ the east 
was down at the top a few inches, when, lo I we both distinctly heard at the 
same instant my brother, Robert B. R., singing, “ We had better bide a wee,” 
in a clear, deep tenor, accompanied by a high-pitched soprano and an old- 
fashioned small melodeon accompaniment, and it sounded as though they were 
up on a level with our windows, about 15 feet from the ground; and I arose 
and threw up the south-west window, from whence the sounds seemed to 
proceed, and then they— the singing— moved to the next, or south-east, window, 
and sang another verse. And I threw that up and saw nothing, but still dis- 
tinctly heard the words as well as the music, and so round to the east window, 
where they sang the last verse, and then the music seemed to float away to the 
north. But the queer part of this occurrence is the fact that at the very time 

that we heard my brother singing in , Wisconsin, he was singing the same 

song before an audience, with the identical accompaniment, an old, tiny 
melodeon, and a high-pitched soprano young lady— a Miss E., of North 
Dakota as we learned two days afterwards, when he came home in response 
to our telegram announcing the death of our mother. 

Any verification of the above facts will be cheerfully made. 

(Signed) [Miss Q.] 



59 


736] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 

— Wis., October iitk, 1890. 

Dear Sir, — Yours of the 6th inst. was duly received, and in reply to your 
request for corroborative testimony relative to the “phenomenal occurrence” 
on the night of November 5th, 1885, at Janesville, Rock Co., Wisconsin— that 
is, the hearing music and two human voices, and the words distinctly audible — 
one voice perfectly familiar to us as that of our half-brother, Robert B. R., 
then of N. Dakota, and the other voice that of a strange lady — soprano, and 
they, my said brother R. B. R., and Miss Sarah E., of N. Dak., were singing 
the same song, “We had better bide a wee,” at an entertainment given by a 

church society of S , a printed programme of which my brother afterwards 

sent to us. 

I am an exceedingly busy person, but a lover of the truth, and interested in 
the progress of the race; but my sister, Miss Mary Q., of this city, is very 
conservative and proud, and when I asked her for an affidavit of her experience 
on that eventful 5th of November 1885, she replied, “ I do not wish the world 
to think me or you a ‘ crank’ or Spiritualist, and do not wish our names pub- 
lished.” I will add that my sister, who is blind, is very intuitive and clairvoyant, 
and there is much in her experience to deeply interest the psychical student. It 
seems to me that the loss of her sight has been compensated by another sense 
—a super-intuition. 

I have written to my brother, R. B. R.,to reply to your request, and also to 

obtain a programme of the church entertainments at S , N. Dak., on 

November 5th, 1885, at which he and Miss Sarah E. sang, “We had better 
bide a wee,” and also to state the exact hour when they were called in the 
programme, for as Robert stated to us when he arrived on that sad occasion 
— the death of our good mother— he informed us that the telegram was brought 
to him, and was held by the operator so as not to spoil the entertainment by 
telling him before he sang, and we — ^my sister Mary Q. and I — both heard 
every note and word of that song sung about seven hundred miles away, 
while our mother’s remains were in the parlour under our bedroom. — Cordially 
yours, (Signed) [Miss Q.] 

Miss Mary Q. writes to Dr. Hodgson as follows : — 

— , Wis., November 15M, 1890. 

Dear Sir, — [In reply to] your kind note of inquiry, relative to my experi- 
ences on the night of November 5th, 1885, they were such as have been 
described by my sister [Miss Q.], who is a lover of scientific research, and is 
not so timid as I and my brother; the latter is very much opposed to either 
of us making known our experience on that night, and has urged me not to 
tell any one of the occurrences of that eventful time, and he refuses to furnish 
the printed programme of the entertainment, at which he and Miss E. were 
singing, “ We had better bide a wee,” insisting that people will believe us all 
“luny ” if we make known all the facts ; and so in deference to his prejudices I 
must respectfully decline to make any further disclosures at present.— Respect- 
fully yours, [Miss Mary Q.] 

Dr. Hodgson adds : — 

December 19/^%.— A letter of inquiry sent to Mr. Robert B. “ R.,” and an 
envelope, with official stamp of our Society on the cover, has been returned to 
me, unopened, by Mr. Robert B. “R.,” so that further corroboration is lacking, 
at least for the present.— R. H. 



6o 


CHAPTER VII 


[737 

It will be observed that Miss Mary Q.*s letter is virtually a confirma- 
tion of Miss Q/s account ; and that Mr. Q.’s action is in harmony with 
his sister's belief that he cannot deny, but does not wish to confirm, the 
truth of this singular narrative. 

Now here the two minds ^ware of the mother's death were the mother's 
own mind and the telegraphist’s. The telegraphist was certainly aware 
that, when the song came to an end, he should have to communicate to the 
singer a painful shock. But, on the other hand, the telegraphist did not 
know the senders of the telegram ; had no means of picturing them or 
their surroundings. I think, therefore, that it will be more in accordance 
with analogy to suppose that the mother’s mind was aware of the impend- 
ing communication, and transmitted, perhaps scarce consciously, to her 
daughters the sensation of the trivial and tiresome cause of delay. I 
give in 736 A an incident equally grotesque, where also the indication 
is of impatience on the part of the deceased person, who perceives the 
news of his death kept back by vexatious accidents. And I add thereto 
Mr. Cameron Grant's case (736 B), where the date of arrival of the news 
of Lord Z.'s death was specially difficult to calculate by ordinary means 
— Mr. Grant being in a wild part of Brazil. Mr. Grant's impulse to 
draw what turned out to be Lord Z.'s death-scene might place this case 
among motor automatisms. There is naturally no clear line between 
seeing a scene in one’s mind's eye and feeling an impulse to draw it 
on paper. Finally, I quote in 736 C a case where a phantasmal appear- 
ance became visible while the percipient actually held in her hand 
an unopened letter, announcing, not the decedent's death, but her 
dangerous illness. And on the strength of all these cases, and of some 
less striking, I repeat my suggestion that in our ignorance as to the degree 
of knowledge of earthly affairs possessed by the departed, and of the causes 
which permit or stimulate their apparition, this possibility of their following 
the diffusion of news of their own death may be well worth our continued 
attention. 

737. Having thus discussed a number of cases where the apparition 
shows varying degrees of knowledge or memory, I pass on to the some- 
what commoner type, where the apparition lacks the power or the impulse 
to communicate any message much more definite than that all-important 
one — of his own continued life and love. These cases, nevertheless, 
might be subdivided on many lines. Each apparition, even though it be 
momentary, is a phenomenon complex in more ways than our minds can 
follow. We must look for some broad line of demarcation, which may 
apply to a great many different incidents, while continuing to some extent 
the series which we have already been descending — from knowledge and 
purpose on the deceased person's part down to vagueness and apparent 
automatism. 

Such a division — gradual, indeed, but for that very reason the more 
instructive — exists between personal and local apparitions ; between mani- 



739] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 6i 

festations plainly intended to impress the minds of certain definite 
survivors and manifestations in accustomed haunts, some of which, 
indeed, may be destined to impress survivors, but which degenerate and 
disintegrate into sights and sounds too meaningless to prove either purpose 
or intelligence. 

738. Let us look, then, for these characteristics, not expecting, of 
course, that our series will be logically simple ; for it must often happen 
that the personal and local impulses will be indistinguishable, as when 
the desired percipient is inhabiting the familiar home. But we may begin 
with some cases where the apparition has shown itself in some scene 
altogether strange to the deceased person. 

We have had, of course, a good many cases of this type already. Such 
was the case of the apparition with the red scratch (717) ; such was the 
apparition in the Countess KapnisPs carriage (727), and the apparition 
to Mrs. B. at Fiesole (728 B). Such cases, indeed, occur most frequently 
— and this fact is itself significant — among the higher and more de- 
veloped forms of manifestation. Among the briefer, less-developed appar- 
itions with which we have now to deal, these invasions by the phantasm 
of quite unknown territory are relatively few. I will begin by referring 
to a curious case, where the impression given is that of a spiritual pre- 
sence which seeks and finds the percipient, but is itself too confused for 
coherent communication (Mrs. Lightfoot’s case, 429 B). It will be seen 
that this narrative is thoroughly in accordance with previous indications 
of a state of posthumous bewilderment supervening before the spirit has 
adjusted its perceptions to the new environment, 

739. In cases like Mrs. Lightfoot’s, where the percipient's surroundings 
are unknown to the deceased person, and especially in cases where the 
intimation of a death reaches the percipient when at sea (as in 739 A) , 
there is plainly nothing except the percipient’s own personality to guide 
the spirit iti his search. We have several narratives of this type. In one 
of these — Archdeacon Farler’s, already referred to in 710 — the appari- 
tion appears twice, the second appearance at least being subsequent 
to the death. It is plain that if in such a case the second apparition 
conveys no fresh intelligence, we cannot prove that it is more than a 
subjective recrudescence of the first Yet analogy is in favour of its 
veridical character, since we have cases (like Miss Hall’s, cited in 713 A) 
where successive manifestations do bring fresh knowledge, and seem to 
show a continued effort to communicate. In this connection I may 
refer to an experience of a witness who has had many experiences, Mr. 

■ Keulemans (see 662 A, &c.), where his little son appeared to him both 
about the time of death and again after death (739 C). In that case the 
child, it would appear, sought his father first in familiar, then in unfamiliar 
surroundings. 

Then, again, there are auditory cases where the phantasmal peech has 
occurred in places not known to the deceased person. One such case 
is that of Mr. Wambey (see 735 A). In 739 B I give a case in which an 



62 CHAPTER VII [740 

apparition was seen several weeks after death, the death being unknown 
to the percipient. 

740. One specially impressive characteristic of apparitions (as has 
been already remarked) is their occasional collectivity — the fact that more 
percipients than one sometimes see or hear the phantasmal figure or 
voice simultaneously. When one is considering the gradual decline in 
definiteness and apparent purpose from one group of apparitions to 
another, it is natural to ask whether this characteristic — in my view so 
important — is found to accompany especially the higher, more intelligent 
manifestations. 

I cannot find that this is so. On the contrary, it is, I think, in cases 
of mere haunting that we oftenest find that the figure is seen by several 
persons at once, or else (a cognate phenomenon) by several persons 
successively. I know not how to explain this apparent tendency. Could 
we admit the underlying assumptions, it would suit the view that the 
haunting spirits are “ earthbound,” and thus somehow nearer to matter 
than spirits more exalted. Yet instances of collectivity are scattered 
through all classes of apparitions ; and the irregular appearance of a 
characteristic which seems to us so fundamental affords another lesson 
how great may be the variety of inward mechanism in cases which to us 
might seem constructed on much the same type.^ 

741. I pass on to a group of cases which are both personal and 
local; although the personal element in most of them — the desire 
to manifest to the friend — may seem more important than the local 
element — the impulse to revisit some accustomed haunt. 

In the first case which I shall cite the deceased person’s image is seen 
simultaneously by several members of his own household, in his own 
house. Note the analogy to a collective crystal vision. 

The account is taken from Phantasms of the Livings vol. ii. p. 213. 
It is given by Mr. Charles A. W. Lett, of the Military and Royal Naval 
Club, Albemarle Street, W- 

Decemher t 885 . 

On the 5th April 1873 ^y wife’s father, Captain Towns, died at his 
residence, Cranbrook, Rose Bay, near Sydney, N. S. Wales. About six weeks 
after his death my wife had occasion, one evening about nine o’clock, to go to 
one of the bedrooms in the house. She was accompanied by a young lady, 
Miss Berthon, and as they entered the room — the gas was burning all the time 
— they were amazed to see, reflected as it were on the polished surface of the 
wardrobe, the image of Captain Towns. It was barely half figure, the head, 
shoulders, and part of the arms only showing— in fact, it was like an ordinary 
medallion portrait, but life-size. The face appeared wan and pale, as it did 
before his death, and he wore a kind of grey flannel jacket, in which he had 
been accustomed to sleep. Surprised and half alarmed at what they saw, their 
first idea was that a portrait had been hung in the room, and that what they 
saw was its reflection ; but there was no picture of the kind. 

1 Certain appearances, collectively seen, in the actual death-chamber, are discussed 
in 740 A. 



742] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 63 

Whilst they were looking and wondering, my wife’s sister, Miss Towns, 
came into the room, and before either of the others had time to speak she 
exclaimed, “ Good gracious ! Do you see papa ? ” One of the housemaids 
happened to be passing downstairs at the moment, and she was called 
in, and asked if she saw anything, and her reply was, “ Oh, miss ! the 
master.” Graham — Captain Towns’ old body servant — was then sent 
for, and he also immediately exclaimed, “Oh, Lord save us! Mrs. Lett, 
it’s the Captain ! ” The butler was called, and then Mrs. Crane, my wife’s 
nurse, and they both said what they saw. Finally, Mrs. Towns was sent for, 
and, seeing the apparition, she advanced towards it with her arm extended as 
if to touch it, and as she passed her hand over the panel of the wardrobe 
the figure gradually faded away, and never again appeared, though the room 
was regularly occupied for a long time after. 

These are the simple facts of the case, and they admit of no doubt ; no kind 
of intimation was given to any of the witnesses ; the same question was put to 
each one as they came into the room, and the reply was given without 
hesitation by each. It was by the merest accident that I did not see the 
apparition. I was in the house at the time, but did not hear when I was 
called. C. A. W. Lett. 

We, the xmdersigned, having read the above statement, certify that it is 
strictly accurate, as we both were witnesses of the apparition. 

Sara Lett. 

SiBBiE Smyth («/^f Towns). 

Gurney writes : — 

Mrs. Lett assures me that neither she nor her sister ever experienced a 
hallucination of the senses on any other occasion. She is positive that the 
recognition of the appearance on the part of each of the later witnesses was 
mdependent, and not due to any suggestion from the persons already in the 
room. 

I add in 741 A another collective case noticeable from the fact that 
the departed spirit appears to influence two persons at a distance from 
each other in a concordant way, so that one of them becomes conscious 
of the appearance to the other. Compare with this the incident given 
at the end of 751 A, when Miss Campbell has a vision of her friend 
seeing an apparition at a time when this is actually occurring. 

742 , In the case which I shall next quote, the evidence, though 
coming from a young boy, is clear and good, and the incident itself is 
thoroughly characteristic. The decedent was satisfying both a local and 
a personal attraction. 

We owe this case (which I quote from Froceedings S.P.R., vol. 
viii. p. 173) to the kindness of Lady Gore Booth, from whom I first heard 
the account by word of mouth. Her son (then a schoolboy aged 10) was 
the percipient, and her youngest daughter, then aged 15, also gives a first- 
hand account of the incident as follows : — 


Lissadell, Sligo, February 1891. 

On the loth of April 1889, at about half-past nine o’clock a.m., my youngest 
brother and I were going down a short flight of stairs leading to the kitchen, to 



CHAPTER VII 


64 


[742 


fetch food for my chickens, as usual. We were about half-way down, my 
brother a few steps in advance of me, when he suddenly said— “ Why, there’s 
John Blaney, I didn’t know he was in the house ! ” John Blaney was a boy 
who lived not far from us, and he had been employed in the house as hall-boy 
not long before. I said that I was sure it was not he (for I knew he had left 
some months previously on account of ill-health), and looked down into the 
passage, but saw no one. The passage was a long one, with a rather sharp 
turn in it, so we ran quickly down the last few steps, and looked round the 
corner, but nobody was there, and the only door he could have gone through 
was shut. As we went upstairs my brother said, “ How pale and ill John 
looked, and why did he stare so ? ” I asked what he was doing. My brother 
answered that he had his sleeves turned up, and was wearing a large green 
apron, such as the footmen always wear at their work. An hour or two after- 
wards I asked my maid how long John Blaney had been back in the house ? 
She seemed much surprised, and said, Didn’t you hear, miss, that he died 
this morning ? ” On inquiry we found he had died about two hours before my 
brother saw him. My mother did not wish that my brother should be told this, 
but he heard of it somehow, and at once declared that he must have seen his 
ghost. Mabel Olive Gore Booth. 

The actual percipient’s independent account is as follows : — 

March 1891. 

We were going downstairs to get food for Mabel’s fowl, when I saw John 
Blaney walking round the corner. I said to Mabel, “ That’s John Blaney!” 
but she could not see him. When we came up afterwards we found he was 
dead. He seemed to me to look rather ill. He looked yellow ; his eyes looked 
hollow, and he had a green apron on. Mordaunt Gore Booth. 

We have received the following confirmation of the date of death : — 

The Presbytery, Ballingal, Sligo, 
loth February 1891. 

I certify from the parish register of deaths that John Blaney (Dunfore) was 
interred on the 12th day of April 1889, having died on the loth day of April 
1889. P. J. Shemaghs, C. C. 

Lady Gore Booth writes : — 

May^istj 1890. 

When my little boy came upstairs and told us he had seen John Blaney, we 
thought nothing of it till some hours after, when we heard that he was dead. 
Then for fear of frightening the children, I avoided any allusion to wliat he had 
told us, and asked every one else to do the same. Probably by now he has 
forgotten all about it, but it certainly was very remarkable, especially as only 
one child saw him, and they were standing together. The place where he 
seems to have appeared was in the passage outside the pantry door, where 
John Blaney’s work always took him. My boy is a very matter-of-fact sort of 
boy, and I never heard of his having any other hallucination. 

G. Gore Booth. 


Now this apparition — unless we explain it as a telepathic impression 
projected at the moment of death and remaining latent for some hours 
before it attained externalisation^ — may possibly be taken as showing 
something of continued memory in the departed boy. Something of him 



7 M] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 65 

or from him, it may be said, reverted to well-known haunts, and was 
discerned in habitual surroundings. But even of this there is no sure 
indication. If it be suggested that the dead boy waited to manifest until 
his young master reached a suitable spot, it may be replied that the living 
boy^s presence in that spot merely enabled him to discern some influence 
which might have been discernible in that spot possibly at any moment 
during some hours, if the fitting percipient had been at hand. Or else, 
and perhaps more simply, we may suppose that there was a mere 
influence transmitted from the departed mind to the living mind, which 
influence the living mind discerned when in surroundings in which its 
own recollection of the decedent might most readily be evoked. 

I add in 742 A a somewhat similar case. The figure of the grand- 
mother looking at the clock resembles the figure of the pantry-boy seen in 
the offices, but was seen by both persons in a position to see it, instead 
of by one only. See also an account given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. 
P* 93> G. Lewis of his seeing an apparition of a young man 

who — ^unknown to him — had died three days before. The young man 
had much wished to see Mr. Lewis before he died, but Mr. Lewis, not 
having heard of his illness, had not been to visit him. This narrative, if 
interpreted in the way which the percipient suggests, might have been 
placed among cases where the figure communicates a message,- the re- 
proachful expression implying a recollected sense of injury. It is, at any 
rate, an example of the class now under discussion, 

743. The case given in 743 A — which comes from excellent inform- 
ants — is one of those which correspond most nearly to what one would 
desire in a posthumous message. I may refer also to General Campbell s 
case (in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 476) in which a long-continued 
series of unaccountable noises and an apparition twice seen by a child in 
the house suggested to the narrator the agency of his dead wife. The 
case, which depends for its evidential force on a great mass of detail, 
is too long for me to quote ; but it is worth study, as is any case 
where there seems evidence of persistent effort to manifest, meeting with 
one knows not what difficulty. It may be that in such a story there 
is nothing but strange coincidence, or it may be that from records of 
partially successful effort, renewed often and in ambiguous ways, we shall 
hereafter learn something of the nature of that curtain of obstruction which 
now seems so arbitrary in its sudden lifting, its sudden fall 

744. I will conclude this group with three cases closely similar, all 
well attested, and all of them capable of explanation either on local or 
personal grounds. In the first (see 744 A) an apparition is seen by two 
persons in a house in Edinburgh, a few hours before the death of a lady 
who had lived there, and whose body was to be brought back to it. In 
the second (see 744 B) the dead librarian haunts his library, but in the 
library are members of his old staff. In the third, the dead wife loiters 
round her husband's tomb, but near it passes a gardener who had been 

VOL. n. E 



66 


CHAPTER VII 


[744 

in her employ. This last — ^the case of Mrs. de Fr^ville and the gar- 
dener Bard — I must insert in the text. As often happens when (as I 
do here) one knows the percipient and his milieu^ even the very plot of 
ground on which he dodged about to watch the phantom, one feels a 
reality in the incident which the most satisfactory depositions from a 
distance will not always bring. The case is quoted from Phantasms of 
the Livings vol. i. p, 212. Gurney there remarks of it : — 

The next case again exhibits the slight deferment of the percipient’s expe- 
rience which I have already mentioned. But its chief interest is as illustrating 
what may be called a locals as distinct from a personal^ rapport between the 
parties concerned. The percipient, at the moment of his impression, was 
contemplating a spot with which the agent was specially connected, and which 
may even have had a very distinct place in her dying thoughts; and it is 
natural to find in this fact a main condition why he, of all people, should have 
been the one impressed. 

The first account of it was sent to us by the Rev. C. T. Forster, Vicar 
of Hinxton, Saffron Walden, as follows : — 

August 1885. 

My late parishioner, Mrs. de Frdville, was a somewhat eccentric lady, who 
was specially morbid on the subject of tombs, &c. 

About two days after her death, which took place in London, May 8th, in 
the afternoon, I heard that she had been seen that very night by Alfred Bard. 
I sent for him, and he gave me a very clear and circumstantial account of what 
he had seen. 

He is a man of great observation, being a self-taught naturalist, and I am 
quite satisfied that he desires to speak the truth without any exaggeration. 

I must add that I am absolutely certain that the news of Mrs. de Frdville’s 
death did not reach Hinxton till the next morning, May 9th. She was found 
dead at 7.30 p.m. She had been left alone in her room, being poorly, but not 
considered seriously or dangerously ill. C. T. Forster. 

The following is the percipient’s own account : — 

fufy 2xst, 1885. 

I am a gardener in employment at Sawston. I always go through Hinxton 
churchyard on my return home from work. On Friday, May 8tb, 1885, I was 
walking back as usual. On entering the churchyard, I looked rather carefully 
at the ground, in order to see a cow and donkey which used to lie just inside 
the gate. In so doing, I looked straight at the square stone vault in which the 
late Mr. de Frdville was at one time buried. I then saw Mrs. de Frdville 
leaning on the rails, dressed much as I had usually seen her, in a coal-scuttle 
bonnet, black jacket with deep crape, and black dress. She was looking full 
at me. Her face was very white, much whiter than usual. I knew her well, 
having at one time been in her employ. I at once supposed that she had come, 
as she sometimes did, to the mausoleum in her own park, in order to have it 
opened and go in. I supposed that Mr. Wiles, the mason from Cambridge, 
was in the tomb doing something. I walked round the tomb, looking carefully 
at it, in order to see if the gate was open, keeping my eye on her, and never 
more than five or six yards from her. Her face turned and followed me. I 
passed between the church and the tomb (there are about four yards between 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


745 ] 


67 


the two), and peered forward to see whether the tomb was open, as she hid the 
part of the tomb which opened. I slightly stumbled on a hassock of grass, and 
looked at my feet for a moment only. When I looked up she was gone. She 
could not possibly have got out of the churchyard, as in order to reach any of 
the exits she must have passed me.^ So I took for granted that she had quickly 
gone into the tomb. I went up to the door, which I expected to find open, but 
to my surprise it was shut and had not been opened, as there was no key in 
the lock. I rather hoped to have a look into the tomb myself, so I went back 
again and shook the gate to make sure, but there was no sign of any one’s 
having been there. I was then much startled and looked at the clock, which 
marked 9.20. When I got home I half thought it must have been my fancy, 
but I told my wife that I had seen Mrs. de Frdville. 

Next day, when my little boy told me that she was dead, I gave a start, 
which my companion noticed, I was so much taken aback. 

I have never had any other hallucination whatever. 

Alfred Bard. 

Mrs. Bard’s testimony is as follows : — 

July %tk, 1885. 

When Mr. Bard came home, he said, have seen Mrs. de Frdville to- 
night, leaning with her elbow on the palisade, looking at me. I turned again 
to look at her and she was gone. She had cloak and bonnet on.” He got 
home as usual between nine and ten. It was on the 8th of May 1885. 

Sarah Bard. 


The Times obituary confirms the date of the death. 

From information more recently received (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. 
V. p. 415) we learn that the lady was found dead at 2 p.m. — not 7.30 p.m. 
as stated above — so that the apparition was seen about seven and a half 
hours after the death. This, as Gurney remarked, makes it still more 
difficult to regard the case as a telepathic impression transmitted at the 
moment of death, and remaining latent in the mind of the percipient. 
The incident suggests rather that Bard had come upon Mrs. de 
Frdville’s spirit, so to say, unawares. One cannot imagine that she 
specially wished him to see her, and to see her engaged in what seems 
so needless and undignified a retracing of currents of earthly thought. 
Rather this seems a rudimentary haunting — an incipient lapse into those 
aimless, perhaps unconscious, reappearances in familiar spots which may 
persist (as it would seem) for many years after death. 

A somewhat similar case is that of Colonel Crealock (in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. V. p. 432) where a soldier who had been dead some hours was 
seen by his superior officer in camp at night rolling up and taking away 
his bed. 

745 . It is, indeed, mainly by dwelling on these intermediate cases, 

1 I was conducted over Hinxton churchyard by Mr. Forster, and can attest the sub- 
stantial accuracy of Mr. Bard’s description of the relative position of the church, the 
tomb, and the exits. The words must have passed me,” however, give a slightly 
erroneous impression ; ** must have come very near me,” would be the more correct 
description.— F. W. H. M. 



68 


CHAPTER VII 


[746 

between a message-bringing apparition and a purposeless haunt, that we 
have most hope of understanding the typical haunt which, while it has 
been in a sense the most popular of all our phenomena, is yet to the 
careful inquirer one of the least satisfactory. One main evidential diffi- 
culty generally lies in identifying the haunting figure, in finding anything 
to connect the history of the house with the vague and often various 
sights and sounds which perplex or terrify its flesh and blood inhabitants. 
We must, at any rate, rid ourselves of the notion that some great crime or 
catastrophe is always to be sought as the groundwork of a haunt of this 
kind. To that negative conclusion the cases now to be described, and 
the cases which have just been described, do concordantly point us. Mrs. 
de Fr^ville was concerned in no tragedy ; she was merely an elderly lady 
with a fancy for sepulchres. And as to the cases to which I now pro- 
ceed — although in Sir Arthur Becher’s case, for example (see 745 A), 
there was at least a rumour of some crime,^ and in Mrs, M.’s case 
(745 B) of past troubles, in which the percipients, of course, were in no 
way concerned — yet in Mr. Husbands’ and Mrs. Clerke’s cases (745 C 
and D), and Mrs. Lewin’s case (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 462), there 
was nothing, so far as we know, which could trouble the departed spirit with 
importunate memories of his earthly home. Again, Mr. Husbands’ case, 
Mrs. Lewin’s, Mrs. Clerke’s, have much in common. In each case the 
apparition is seen by a stranger, several months after the death, with no 
apparent reason for its appearance at that special time. This last point is 
of interest in considering the question whether the hallucinatory picture 
could have been projected from any still incarnate mind. In another 
case — the vision of the Bishop of St. Brieuc (given in Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. V. p. 460), there was such a special reason; — the Bishop’s body, 
unknown to the percipient, was at that moment being buried at the 
distance of a few miles. Mr, Podmore suggests (op, cit.^ vol. vi. p. 301) 
that it was from the minds of the living mourners that the Bishop’s 
phantasm was generated. That hypothesis may have its portion of truth ; 
the surrounding emotion may have been one of the factors which made 
the apparition possible. But the assumption that it was the only 
admissible factor — ^that the departed Bishop’s own possible agency must 
be set aside altogether — ^lands us, I think, in difficulties greater than 
those which we should thus escape. The reader who tries to apply 
it to the apparitions quoted in my earlier groups will find himself in 
a labyrinth of complexity. Still more will this be the case in dealing with 
the far fuller and more explicit motor communications, by automatic 
writing or speech, which we shall have to discuss in the two next chapters. 
Unless the actual evidence be disallowed in a wholesale manner, we shall 
be forced, I think, to admit the continued action of the departed as a 
main element in these apparitions. 

I do not say as the only element. I myself hold, as already implied, 
^ See also the case of Mrs. Penn^e in Proceedings S. P. R., vol. vi. p. 60. 



747] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 69 

that the thought and emotion of living persons does largely intervene, as 
aiding or conditioning the independent action of the departed. I even 
believe that it is possible that, say, an intense fixation of my own mind on 
a departed spirit may aid that spirit to manifest at a special moment — and 
not even to me, but to a percipient more sensitive than myself. In the 
boundless ocean of mind innumerable currents and tides shift with the 
shifting emotion of each several soul. 

746. But now we are confronted by another possible element in these 
vaguer classes of apparitions, harder to evaluate even than the possible 
action of incarnate minds. I mean the possible results of past mental 
action, which, for ought we know, may persist in some perceptible manner, 
without fresh reinforcement, just as the results of past bodily action per- 
sist. This question leads to the still wider question of retro cogniUon^ and 
of the relation of psychical phenomena to Ume generally — a problem 
whose discussion cannot be attempted in this chapter. Yet we must 
remember that such possibilities exist ; they may explain certain pheno- 
mena into which little of fresh intelligence seems to enter, as, for instance, 
the alleged persistence, perhaps for years, of meaningless sounds in a 
particular room or house. 

747. And since we are coming now to cases into which this element 
of meaningless sound will enter largely, it seems right to begin their dis- 
cussion with a small group of cases where there is evidence for the definite 
agency of some dying or deceased person in connection with inarticulate 
sounds, or I should rather say of the connection of some deceased person 
with the sounds; since the best explanation may perhaps be that they 
are sounds of welcome — before or after actual death — corresponding to 
those apparitions of welcome of which we have already had specimens. I 
give one of these cases in full in the text, and a second in 747 A. A 
third has already been cited in the ‘‘Peak in Darien'' group (718 A), 
The following is taken from Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 639. 

A gentleman who is a master at Eton College wrote to us, on February 
3rd, 1884 

I enclose a copy of a memorandum made a few days after the event referred 
to. My memorandum has been copied for me by Miss H., whose name occurs 
in it. She is my matron — a sensible, middle-aged, active, and experienced 
woman. None of the people concerned were young, flighty, or fanciful. I 
have the doctor’s letter; his name is G., and he still resides here. Miss H. 
only wishes to add that it must have occurred from twenty minutes to perhaps 
thirty after dissolution, and she says that she has never heard anything like the 
extreme sweetness of the sound. H. E. L. 

The memorandum is as follows : — 


Eton College, August 6 th, 1881. 

I wish to write down, before there is time for confusion, the following fact, 
occurring on Thursday morning, July 28th, 1881, when my dear mother died, 



70 


CHAPTER VII 


[747 

whom God rest ! After all was over, Miss E. I., Eliza W., Dr. G., and myself 
being in the room, Miss 1 . heard a sound of “ veiy low, soft music, exceedingly 
sweet, as if of three girls’ voices passing by the house,” She described further 
the sound as if girls were going home singing, only strangely low and sweet; it 
seemed to come from the street, past the house towards the College buildings 
(the road ends there in a cuZ-de-sac), and so passed away. She looked to ciil 
my attention, and thought I perceived it. She noticed that the doctor heard 
it, and that he went to the window to look out. The window faces S.E. Eliza 
W. being in the room at the same time heard a sound of a very low, sweet 
singing. She recognised the tune and words of the hymn, “ The strife is o’er, 
the battle done.” Miss I. recognised no tune, but felt “ that the music sounded, 
as it were, familiar.” As a very accomplished musician, especially remarkable 
for her quick memory of music, had words or air been those of a well-known 
hymn, she would almost certainly have remembered it. These two spoke to 
each other when alone about what they had heard. Miss I. gives the time at 
about ten minutes after my dear mother expired. They were then unaware of 
this additional circumstance. Miss H. had left the room, and had summoned 
Charlotte C.‘, with whom she had procured something required for laying out 
the body. As the two returned upstairs they heard a sound of music, and both 
stopped. Charlotte said to Miss H., What is this ? ” After a pause she said, 
“ It must be Miss I. singing to comfort master.” They afterwards entered the 
room, of which the door had been shut all along. Charlotte further described 
the sound as very sweet and low, seeming to pass by them. She felt as if, had 
she only been able to listen, she could have distinguished the words. It did 
not occur to her that her description was most incongruous. She could not 
listen attentively, but felt “as if rapture were all around her.” It was not 
until afterwards, when she mentioned to Eliza having heard Miss I. singing, 
and how strangely it sounded, that they found that each had heard the sound. 
Miss H. described the sound as very peculiar and sweet, seeming to pass by 
them and pass away, as they both stopped on the stairs. All the staircase 
windows give north-west. I heard nothing, and I should have given no weight 
to a sound heard or described by these women in the room after communicating 
with each other, or by these women out of the room respectively ; but the coin- 
cidence of each party hearing it separately and independently without previous 
communication, as well as the matter-of-fact explanation suggested for it by 
one of them, seeming to imply that their thoughts were not dwelling on the 
supernatural, added so much weight to this account that I wrote to the doctor, 
who answers: — “ I quite remember hearing the singing you mention; it was so 
peculiar that I went to the window and looked out, but although quite light I 
could see no one, and cannot therefore account for it.” The time must have 
been about 2 a.m. on July 28th, i 88 i. 

Miss L writes : — 


13 Park Street, Windsor, February 22nd, 1884. 

I will copy the memorandum which I made in my diary just after the death 
of my dear friend and connection, Mrs. L. 


^*Jufy 2%thy x88i. 

“Just after dear Mrs. L.’s death between two and three a.m., I heard a most 
sweet and singular strain of singing outside the windows ; it died away after 
passing the house. All in the room heard it, and the medical attendant, who 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


71 


747] 

was still with us, went to the window as I did, and looked out, but there was 
nobody. It was a bright and beautiful night. It was as if several voices were 
singing in perfect unison a most sweet melody, which died away in the distance. 
Two persons had gone from the room to fetch something, and were coming up- 
stairs at the back of the house, and heard the singing and stopped, saying, 
'What is that singing?* They could not natter ally have heard any sound 
outside the windows in the front of the house from where they were. I cannot 
think that any explanation can be given to this — as I think — supernatural 
singing ; but it would be very interesting to me to know what is said by those 
who have made such matters a subject of study. E. I.” 

Dr. G. writes in 1884 : — 

Eton, Windsor. 

I remember the circumstance perfectly. Poor Mrs. L. died on July 28th, 
i88r. I was sent for at about midnight, and remained until her death at about 
2.30 A.M. As there was no qualified nurse present, I remained and assisted the 
friends to “ lay out ” the body. Four or five of us assisted, and at my request 
the matron of Mr. L.^s house and a servant went to the kitchen department to 
find a shutter or flat board upon which to place the body. Soon after their 
departure, and whilst we were waiting for their return, we distinctly heard a 
few bars of lovely music — not unlike that from an .^olian harp — ^which seemed 
to fill the air for a few seconds. I went to the window and looked out, thinking 
there must be some one outside, but could see no one, although it was quite 
light and clear. Strangely enough those who went to the kitchen heard the 
same sounds as they were coming upstairs, quite at the other side of the door. 
These are the facts, and I think it right to tell you that I have not the slightest 
belief in the supernatural, spiritualism, &c., &c. J. W. G. 

The fact that Mr. L. did not share the experience is strong evidence 
that the sounds were not objectively caused by persons singing outside 
the house ; and this is further confirmed by the slight difference which 
there appears to have been between the impressions received. 

I have already discussed (Chapter VI., 643 and 655) the nature of 
these phantasmal sounds; — ^nor is it contrary to our analogies that the 
person most deeply concerned in the death should in this case fail to 
hear them. But the point on which I would here lay stress is that 
phantasmal sounds — even non-articulate sounds — may be as clear a mani- 
festation of personality as phantasmal figures. Among non-articulate 
noises music is, of course, the most pleasing; but sounds, for instance, 
which imitate the work of a carpenter’s shop, may be equally human 
and intelligent. In some of the cases of this class we see apparent 
attempts of various kinds to simulate sounds such as men and women 
— or manufactured, as opposed to natural, objects — are accustomed to 
produce To claim this humanity, to indicate this intelligence, seems the 
only motive of sounds of this kind.^ 

1 See, however, Mrs. Sidgwick's remarks (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. pp. 79-So), 
as to the rarity of any indication of intelligence in such sounds, and the possibility of 
reading more intelligence into them than they really possess. There is now, of course, 
more evidence as to these sounds than there was at the date of Mrs. Sidgwick^s paper 
(i88s). 



72 


CHAPTER VII 


[748 

748. These sounds, in their rudimentary attempt at showing intelli- 
gence, are about on a level with the exploits of the Poltergeist,*' where 
coals are thrown about, water spilt, and so forth. Physical phenomena of 
that type will fall to be dealt with in a later chapter ; but it is a curious 
fact that Poltergeist phenomena should so seldom coincide with the 
ordinary phenomena of a haunt. We have one remarkable case — to be 
mentioned later — ^where Poltergeist phenomena coincide with a death 
(868 B) ; and a few cases where they are supposed to follow on a death ; 
but, as a rule, where figures appear there are no movements ; and where 
there are movements no apparition is seen. If alleged Poltergeist pheno- 
mena are always fraudulent, there would be nothing to be surprised 
at here. If, as I suspect, they are sometimes genuine, their dissociation 
from visual hallucinations may sometimes afford us a hint of value. 

749. But after Poltergeists have been set aside — after a severe line 
has been drawn excluding all those cases (in themselves singular enough) 
where the main phenomena observed consist of non-articulate sounds, — 
there remains a great mass of evidence to haunting, — that is, broadly 
speaking, to the fact that there are many houses in which more than one 
person has independently seen phantasmal figures, which usually, though 
not always, bear at least some resemblance to each other.^ The facts 
thus baldly stated are beyond dispute. Their true interpretation is a 
very difficult matter. Mrs. Sidgwick gives four hypotheses, which I must 
quote at length as the first serious attempt ever made (so far as I know) to 
collect and face the difficulties of this problem, so often, but so loosely, 
discussed through all historical times. (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. 
pp. 146 - 8 .) 

“ I will, therefore, proceed briefly to state and discuss the only four 
theories that have occurred to me. 

The two which I will take first in order assume that the apparitions 
are due to the agency or presence of the spirits of deceased men. 

“There is first the popular view, that the apparition is something 
belonging to the external world — ^that, like ordinary matter, it occupies and 
moves through space, and would be in the room whether the percipient 
were there to see it or not. This hypothesis involves us in many diffi- 
culties, of which one serious one — that of accounting for the clothes of 
the ghost — has often been urged, and never, I think, satisfactorily answered. 
Nevertheless, I am bound to admit that there is some little evidence 

1 Thus Mrs. Sidgwick, even as far back as 1885 {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 142 ), 
writes . ** I can only say that having made every effort — as my paper will, I hope, have 
shown — to exercise a reasonable scepticism, I yet do not feel equal to the degree of 
unbelief in human testimony necessary to avoid accepting, at least provisionally, the con- 
clusion that there are, in a certain sense, haunted houses, i,e. that there are houses in 
which similar quasi-human apparitions have occurred at different times to different 
inhabitants, under circumstances which exclude the hypothesis of suggestion or 
expectation.*' 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


73 


749 ] 

tending to suggest this theory. For instance, in the account,^ of which I 
have given an abstract, of the weeping lady who has appeared so frequently 
in a certain house, the following passage occurs: — ^They went after it 
(the figure) together into the drawing-room ; it then came out, and went 
down the aforesaid passage (leading to the kitchen), but was the next 
minute seen by another Miss [M.] . . . come up the outside steps from the 
kitchen. On this particular day. Captain [M.'s] married daughter happened 
to be at an upstairs window . . . and independently saw the figure con- 
tinue her course across the lawn and into the orchard.* A considerable 
amount of clear evidence to the appearance of ghosts to independent 
observers in successive points in space would certainly afford a strong 
argument for their having a definite relation to space ; but in estimating 
evidence of this kind it would be necessary to know how far the observer’s 
attention had been drawn to the point in question. If it had been a real 
woman whom the Miss [M.’s] were observing, we should have inferred, with 
perfect certainty, from our knowledge that she could not be in two places 
at once, that she had been successively, in a certain order, in the places 
where she was seen by the three observers. If they had noted the 
moments at which they saw her, and comparing notes afterwards, found 
that according to these notes they had all seen her at the same time, or in 
some other order to that inferred, we should still feel absolute confidence 
in our inference, and should conclude that there must be something wrong 
about the watches or the notes. From association of ideas, it would be 
perfectly natural to make the same inference in the case of a ghost which 
looks exactly like a woman. But in the case of the ghost the inference 
would not be legitimate, because, unless the particular theory of ghosts 
which we are discussing be true, there is no reason, so far as we know, why 
it should not appear in two or more places at once. Hence, in the case 
of the ghost, a well-founded assurance that the appearances were successive 
would require a careful observation of the times, which, so far as I know, 
has never been made. On the whole, therefore, I must dismiss the 
popular theory as not having, in my opinion, even a primt facie ground for 
serious consideration. 

The theory that I will next examine seems to me decidedly more 
plausible, from its analogy to the conclusion to which I am brought by the 
examination of the evidence for phantasms of the living. This theory is 
that the apparition has no real relation to the external world, but is a 
hallucination caused in some way by some communication, without the 
intervention of the senses, between the disembodied spirit and the per- 
cipient, its form depending on the mind either of the spirit or of the 
percipient, or of both. In the case of haunted houses, however, a diffi- 
culty meets us that we do not encounter, or at least rarely encounter, in 
applying a similar hypothesis to explain phantasms of the living, or phan- 
tasms of the dead other than fixed local ghosts. In these cases we have 
1 This case is given in 751 A. 



74 


CHAPTER VII 


[749 

generally to suppose a simple rapport between mind and mind, but in a 
haunted house we have a rapport complicated by its apparent dependence 
on locality. It seems necessary to make the improbable assumption, that 
the spirit is interested in an entirely special way in a particular house 
(though possibly this interest may be of a subconscious kind), and that his 
interest in it puts him into connection with another mind, occupied with 
it in the way that that of a living person actually there must consciously 
or unconsciously be, while he does not get into similar communication 
with the same, or with other persons elsewhere. 

“ If, notwithstanding these difficulties, it be true that haunting is due 
in any way to the agency of deceased persons, and conveys a definite idea 
of them to the percipients through the resemblance to them of the appari- 
tion, then, by patiently continuing our investigations, we may expect, sooner 
or later, to obtain a sufficient amount of evidence to connect clearly the 
commencement of hauntings with the death of particular persons, and to 
establish clearly the likeness of the apparition to those persons. The fact 
that almost everybody is now photographed ought to be of material assist- 
ance in obtaining evidence of this latter kind. 

My third theory dispenses with the agency of disembodied spirits, 
but involves us in other and perhaps equally great improbabilities. It is 
that the first appearance is a purely subjective hallucination, and that the 
subsequent similar appearances, both to the original percipient and to 
others, are the result of the first appearance; unconscious expectancy 
causing them in the case of the original percipient, and some sort of tele- 
pathic communication from the original percipient in the case of others. 
In fact, it assumes that a tendency to a particular hallucination is in a way 
infectious. If this theory be true, I should expect to find t^at the appa- 
rently independent appearances after the first depended on the percipient’s 
having had some sort of intercourse with some one who had seen the 
ghost before, and that any decided discontinuity of occupancy would stop 
the haunting. I should also expect to find, as we do in one of the cases 
I have quoted, that sometimes the supposed ghost would follow the family 
from one abode to another, appearing to haunt them rather than any 
particular house. 

The fourth theory that I shall mention is one which I can hardly 
expect to appear plausible, and which, therefore, I only introduce because 
I think that it corresponds best to a certain part of the evidence ; — and, as 
I have already said, considering the altogether tentative way in which we 
are inevitably dealing with this obscure subject, it is as well to express 
definitely every hypothesis which an impartial consideration of the facts 
suggests. It is that there is something in the actual building itself— some 
subtle physical influence — ^which produces in the brain that effect which, 
in its turn, becomes the cause of a hallucination. It is certainly difficult 
on this hypothesis alone to suppose that the hallucinations of different 
people would be similar, but we might account for this by a combination 



75 


750] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 

of this hypothesis and the last. The id^ is suggested by the case, of 
which I have given an abstract, where the haunting continued through 
more than one occupancy, but changed its character ; and if there be any 
truth in the theory, I should expect in time to obtain a good deal more 
evidence of this kind, combined with evidence that the same persons do 
not as a rule encounter ghosts elsewhere. I should also expect evidence 
to be forthcoming supporting the popular idea that repairs and alterations 
of the building sometimes cause the haunting to cease.” ^ 

750. These hypotheses — none of which, as Mrs. Sidgwick expressly 
states {op. cit, p. 145 ), seemed to herself satisfactory — did nevertheless, I 
think, comprise all the deductions which could reasonably be made from 
the evidence as it at that time stood. A few modifications, which the 
experience of subsequent years has led me to introduce, can hardly be 
said to afford further explanaiion^ although they state the difficulties in 
what now seems to me a more hopeful way. 

In the first place then — as already explained in Chapter VI. — I in 
some sense fuse into one Mrs. Sidgwick’s two first hypotheses by my own 
h 3 rpothesis of actual presence, actual spatial changes induced in the mete- 
therial, but not in the material world. I hold that when the phantasm is 
discerned by more than one person at once (and on some other, but not 
all other occasions) it is actually effecting a change in that portion of 
space where it is perceived, although not, as a rule, in the matter 
which occupies that place. It is, therefore, not optically nor acoustically 
perceived ; perhaps no rays of light are reflected nor waves of air set in 
motion ; but an unknown form of supernormal perception, not necessarily 
acting through the sensory end-organs, comes into play. In the next 
place, I am inclined to lay stress on the parallel between these narratives 
of haunting ani those phantasms of the living which I have already 
classed as psychorrhagic. In each case, as it seems to me, there is an in- 
voluntary detachment of some element of the spirit, probably with no know- 
ledge thereof at the main centre of consciousness. Those haunts by the 
living,” as they may be called (see Chapter VL, 649) where, for instance, 
a man is seen phantasmally standing before his own fireplace — seem to me 
to be repeated, perhaps more readily, after the spirit is freed from the flesh. 


1 In an earlier part of this paper, I mentioned cases of haunted houses where the 
apparitions are various, and might therefore all of them be merely subjective hallucina- 
tions, sometimes, perhaps, caused by expectancy. It is, of course, also possible to 
explain these cases by the hypothesis we are now discussing. Another class of cases is, 
perhaps, worth mentioning in this connection. We have in the collection two cases of 
what was believed by the narrators to be a quite peculiar feeling of discomfort, in houses 
where concealed and long since decomposed bodies were subsequently found. Such 
feelings are seldom clearly defined enough to have much evidential value, for others, at 
any rate, than the percipient ; even though mentioned beforehand, and definitely con- 
nected with the place where the skeleton was. But if there be really any connection 
between the skeleton and the feeling, it may possibly be a subtle physical influence such 
as I am suggesting.— E. M. S, 



76 


CHAPTER VII 


[751 

751. Again, I think that the curious question as to the influence of 
certain houses in generating apparitions may be included under the broader 
heading of Retrocognition. That is to say, we are not here dealing with a 
special condition of certain houses, but with a branch of the wide problem 
as to the relation of supernormal phenomena to time. Manifestations 
which occur in haunted houses depend, let us say, on something which 
has taken place a long time ago. In what way do they depend on that 
past event ? Are they a sequel, or only a residue ? Is there fresh opera- 
tion going on, or only fresh perception of something already accomplished? 
Or can we in such a case draw any real distinction between a continued 
action and a continued perception of a past action? The closest parallel, 
as it seems to me, although not at first sight an obvious one, lies between 
these phenomena of haunting, these persistent sights and sounds, and 
certain phenomena of crystal-vision and of automatic script, which also 
seem to depend somehow upon long-past events, — to be their sequel or 
their residue. One specimen case I give in an Appendix (751 A) , where 
the connection of the haunting apparition with a certain person long de- 
ceased may be maintained with more than usual plausibility. From that 
level the traceable connections get weaker and weaker (see 761 B), until 
we come to phantasmal scenes where there is no longer any even apparent 
claim to the contemporary agency of human spirits. Such a vision, for 
instance, as that of a line of spectral deer crossing a ford, may indeed, 
if seen in the same place by several independent observers, be held to be 
something more than a mere subjective fancy; but what in reality such a 
picture signifies is a question which brings us at once to theories of the 
permanence or simultaneity of all phenomena in a timeless Universal 
Soul. 

Such conceptions, however difficult, are among the highest to which 
our mind can reach. Could we approach them more nearly, they might 
deeply influence our view, even of our own remote individual destiny. 
So, perhaps, shall it some day be ; at present we may be well satisfied if we 
can push our knowledge of that destiny one step further than of old, even 
just behind that veil which has so long hung impenetrably before the eyes 
of men. 

752. Here, then, is a natural place of pause in our inquiry. We have 
worked as far as we can on the data which we have had under our view. 
The sensory automatisms with which we have dealt in this and the 
preceding chapter have proved to us, in my view, the connection of defi- 
nite apparitions with individual men, both during bodily life and after 
bodily death. They have, in short, proved by logical reasoning the exist- 
ence and the persistence of a spirit in man. 

But great as this achievement is, it opens out more problems than it 
solves ; it leaves us even more eager than at first for a fuller insight into 
this new dim-lit world. We crave for some wider field of induction, for some 
more potent engine of analysis. We feel that, important though the facts 



PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 


77 


753] 

of phantasmal appearances may be, they yet are in a sense somewhat 
jejune and external ; we want to get deeper, to reach some psychological 
discussion not dependent on time-coincidences nor on the details of some 
evanescent observation. We instinctively seek, in short, just that know- 
ledge which will now be in some measure afforded to us through the study 
of that wide range of phenomena which I have classed together as motor 
automatisms. 

The line of demarcation indeed between sensory and motor automa- 
tisms is by no means distinct. Neither class, to begin with, is more 
veridical, more inspired from without than the other. In neither case 
have we any clear subjective criterion as to the origin of the message ; 
whether it comes merely from the automatisms own mind, or from minds 
of the living, or from minds of the departed. Even in mere external form, 
again, the two groups are often closely mixed. It makes little difference 
whether one sees words written in a crystal, or writes them oneself with 
unknowing hand. But nevertheless it must on the whole be admitted 
that motor automatisms have thus far been, and seem likely to continue, 
the more instmctive of the two classes. The suddenness, the brevity of 
an apparition may be actually an evidential aid if we are simply estab- 
lishing, say, a death coincidence. But when we have proceeded to a 
somewhat further stage — when we are looking for information from the 
inside as to the nature of spiritual operations — then, as I have said, the 
power of question and answer, of prolonged scrutiny, becomes all-important. 
We certainly cannot, I repeat, claim any more universal trustworthiness 
for motor than for sensory automatisms. The proportion of misleading to 
veridical written messages is probably even greater than the proportion of 
merely subjective to veridical apparitions. But while the apparition is 
gone in a moment, the written or spoken matter may renew itself for 
years, allowing us to test both its authenticity and its truthfulness — 
two different matters — with every touchstone which our leisure can 
devise. 

It must be, then, on the study of motor automatisms that our general 
view of the metetherial world now opening to us must mainly be based. 
Those longer colloquies of automatic speech and script will introduce us 
to points of philosophy which fleeting apparitions cannot teach. 

753. And yet it is by no means needful, it would be by no means wise, 
to close even this earlier branch of the inquiry without some few words on 
its ethical, its religious aspect. If one hopes to influence opinion, one 
must realise where that opinion at present stands which one would fain 
lead into further truth. The novelties of this book are intended to work 
upon preconceptions which are ethical quite as much as intellectual. It 
would be mere pedantry to avoid all mention of ethical implications, when 
matters are touched upon which the majority of thinking men are agreed 
to regard from a point of view which is as yet ethical rather than scientific. 
If the new facts, of such far-reaching import, are to enter deeply into 



CHAPTER VII 


78 


[753 


the consciousness of our race, they must be seen to be morally, as weU as 
intellectually, coherent and acceptable. 

For the most part, indeed, such discussion may be postponed to my 
concluding chapter. But one point already stands out from the evidence — 
at once so important and so manifest, that it seems well to call attention 
to it at once — as a solvent more potent than any Lucretius could apply 
to human superstition and human fears. 

In this long string of narratives, complex and bizarre though their 
details may be, we yet observe that the character of the appearance varies 
in a definite manner with their distinctness and individuality. Haunting 
phantoms, incoherent and unintelligent, may seem restless and unhappy. 
But as they rise into definiteness, intelligence, individuality, the phantoms 
rise also into love and joy. I cannot recall one single case of a proved 
posthumous combination of intelligence with wickedness. Such evil as 
our evidence will show us, — we have as yet hardly come across it in this 
book — is scarcely more than monkeyish mischief, childish folly. In deal- 
ing with automatic script, for instance, we shall have to wonder whence 
come the occasional vulgar jokes or silly mystifications. We shall discuss 
whether they are a kind of dream of the autoraatist’s own, or whether they 
indicate the existence of unembodied intelligences on the level of the dog 
or the ape. But, on the other hand, all that world-old conception of Evil 
Spirits, of malevolent Powers, which has been the basis of so much of 
actual devil-worship and of so much more of vague supernatural fear ; — all 
this insensibly melts from the mind as we study the evidence before us. 

Hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest 
Non radii solis neque lucida tela diei 
Biscutiant, sed naturas species ratioque. 


Here surely is a fact of no little meaning. Our narratives have been 
collected from men and women of many types, holding all varieties of 
ordinary opinion. Yet the upshot of all these narratives is to emphasise 
a point which profoundly differentiates the scientific from the superstitious 
view of spiritual phenomena. The terror which shaped primitive theologies 
still tinges for the populace every hint of intercourse with disembodied 
souls. The transmutation of savage fear into scientific curiosity is of the 
essence of civilisation. Towards that transmutation each separate fragment 
of our evidence, with undesigned concordance, indisputably tends. In 
that faintly opening world of spirit I can find nothing worse than living 
men; I seem to discern not an intensification but a disintegration of 
selfishness, malevolence, pride. And is not this a natural result of any 
cosmic moral evolution? If the selfish man (as Marcus Antoninus has 
it) is a kind of boil or imposthume upon the universe,** must not his 
egoistic impulses suffer in that wider world a sure, even if a painful, 
decay ; finding no support or sustenance among those permanent forces 
which maintain the stream of things ? 



754] PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD 79 

754. I have thus indicated one point of primary importance on which 
the undesignedly coincident testimony of hundreds of first-hand narratives 
supports a conclusion, not yet popularly accepted, but in harmony with 
the evolutionary conceptions which rule our modern thought. , Nor does 
this point stand alone. I can find, indeed, no guarantee of absolute and 
idle bliss; no triumph in any exclusive salvation. But the student of 
these narratives will, I think, discover throughout them uncontradicted 
indications of the persistence of Love, the growth of Joy, the willing 
submission to Law. 

These indications, no doubt, may seem weak and scattered in com- 
parison with the wholesale, thorough-going assertions of philosophical 
or religious creeds. Their advantage is that they occur incidentally in the 
course of our independent and cumulative demonstration of the pro- 
foundest cosmical thesis which we can at present conceive as susceptible 
of any kind of scientific proof. Cosmical questions, indeed, there may be 
which are in thnmselves of deeper import than our own survival of bodily 
death. The nature of the First Cause ; the blind or the providential order- 
ing of the sum of things these are problems vaster than any which affect 
only the destinies of men. But to whatever moral certainty we may attain 
on those mightiest questions, we can devise no way whatever of bringing 
them to scientific test. They deal with infinity; and our modes of 
investigation have grasp only on finite things. 

But the question of man’s survival of death stands in a position 
uniquely intermediate between matters capable and matters incapable of 
proof. It is in itself a definite problem, admitting of conceivable proof 
which, even if not technically rigorous, might amply satisfy the scientific 
mind. And at the same time the conception which it involves is in itself 
a kind of avenue and inlet into infinity. Could a proof of our survival be 
obtained, it would carry us deeper into the true nature of the universe 
than we should be carried by an even perfect knowledge of the material 
scheme of things. It would cany us deeper both by achievement and by 
promise. The discovery that there was a life in man independent of blood 
and brain would be a cardinal, a dominating fact in all science and in all 
philosophy. And the prospect thus opened to human knowledge, in this 
or in other worlds, would be limitless indeed. 

I do not venture to suppose that the evidence set forth in these volumes, 
even when considered in connection with other evidence now accessible 
in our Proc^dtngs^ will at once convince the bulk of my readers that the 
momentous, the epoch-making discovery has been already made. Nay, 
I cannot even desire that my own belief should at once impose itself upon 
the world. Let men’s minds move in their wonted manner : great con- 
victions are sounder and firmer when they are of gradual growth. But 
I do think that to the candid student it should by this time, become 
manifest that the world-old problem can now in reality be hopefully 
attacked ; that there is actual and imminent possibility that the all-impor- 



8o 


CHAPTER VII 


[755 

tant truth should at last become indisputably known ; and, therefore, that 
it befits all “men of goodwill” to help toward this knowing with what 
zeal they may. 

755. And this leads me to conclude this chapter with one urgent 
word — at once of gratitude and of appeal. To the informants, to whose 
care and kindness we owe the evidence collected in this work, I must 
express the cordial acknowledgment of the whole group of inquirers to 
whom their indispensable aid has been given. Especial thanks are due 
to those exceptionally gifted persons who have permitted us to witness 
and to test their supernormal powers. Viewed from the standpoint of 
our own personal claim, or absence of claim, upon our informants’ time 
and attention, the amount of collaboration offered to us has been 
generous indeed. 

But another point of view must be considered. The research on 
which my friends and I are engaged is not the mere hobby of a few 
enthusiasts. Our opinions, of course, are individual and disputable ; but 
the facts presented here and in the S.P.R. Proceedings are a very dif- 
ferent matter. Neither the religious nor the scientific reader can longer 
afford to ignore them, to pass them by. They must be met,' they must 
be understood, unless Science and Religion alike are to sink into mere 
obscurantism. And the one and only way to understand them is to learn 
more of them ; to collect more evidence, to try more experiments, to bring 
to bear on this study a far more potent effort of the human mind than the 
small group who have thus far been at work can possibly furnish. Judged 
by this standard, the needed help has still to come. Never was there a 
harvest so plenteous with labourers so few. 



800 ] 


CHAPTER VIII 

MOTOR AUTOMATISM 

Mijkcti ijlovov (rvfiTTvcLV t<3 7repi€)(0VTL aipif oAA^ ^Srj Kal <Tvix<f>pov€(.v 
rto 7r€pL€)(ovri wdvra voepS. 

—Marcus Aurelius. 

800 . In the pursuit of the vast and inchoate inquiry to which this 
work is devoted, we are inevitably driven to push on in several directions 
in turn, along an irregular line of advance. And it will be well to look 
back for a moment from this point on the paths by which we. have thus 
far travelled, to realise what we have already achieved, and to make a 
preliminary survey of the ground which still lies before us. 

Our main theme, I repeat once more, is the analysis of human per- 
sonality, undertaken with the object of showing that in its depths there lie 
indications of life and faculty not limited to a planetary existence, or to 
this material world. 

In the j^rst chapter this thesis was explained, and each chapter that has 
followed has advanced us a step towards its establishment. In the second 
chapter we found that the old-fashioned conception of human personality 
as a unitary consciousness known with practical completeness to the 
waking self needed complete revision. We began by tracing instances in 
which that consciousness was disintegrated in various ways; and even 
among those morbid cases we found traces of the action of a profounder 
self. In the third chapter, dealing with the phenomena of so-called 
geniusy we found further indications of a deeper self possessing habitually 
a higher degree of faculty than the superficial self can readily employ. In 
the fourth chapter certain phenomena connected with sleep — manifesta- 
tions of supernormal faculty both telaesthetic, telepathic, and premonitory 
— led us on to the conception of a highly evolved subliminal self operating 
with unknown faculty in an unknown environment. Nay, we have thus 
been led to think that this subliminal self represents, more fully than the 
supraliminal self, our central and abiding being, so that, when the slumber 
of the supraliminal self leaves it comparatively free, it performs two 
functions of profound importance; in the first place restoring and 
rejuvenating the bodily organism by drafts upon the energy of the spiritual 
world with which it is in communion, and in the second place itself 

VOL. n. F 



82 CHAPTER VIII [800 

entering into closer connection with that spiritual world, apart from the 
bodily organism. 

Our fifth chapter, on H)rpnotism, served as an experimental illustration 
of this view. We there found that we could, by empirical processes, 
deepen the sleeping phase of personality, and thus increase both the 
subliminal seifs power of renovating the organism, both in familiar and in 
unfamiliar ways, and also its power of operating in a quasi-independent 
manner in the spiritual world. In the hypnotic trance, moreover, that 
hidden self was able to come to the surface, to speak and to answer ; to 
present itself as an independent agent with which we could directly deal. 
We seemed to see here an opening which might lead us far, if we could 
learn to intensify the trance, and at the same time to keep the subliminal 
self sufficiently alert and near to us to be still able to describe its experiences 
as they occur. If, then, my evidence had ended at this point, I should 
already have ventured to say, not indeed that my far-reaching theses had 
received adequate proof, but yet that I had offered an intelligible and 
coherent hypothesis which would be found to cover a multitude of pheno- 
mena which at present stand in the text-books with no adequate explana- 
tion, as well as a multitude of phenomena which the text-books altogether 
ignore. 

But the evidence has not in fact ended with my fifth chapter. On the 
contrary it has from that point taken a fresh start; has become more 
explicitly and manifestly corroborative of my initial thesis. For we have 
gone on to find that this subliminal self, whose more remarkable workings 
had thus far mainly been apparent in the sleeping phase of our personality, 
is active, at any rate at occasional moments, during waking hours as well. 
We proceeded in the sixth chapter to the study of automatisms, that is to 
say, of manifestations of submerged mental processes, which do not enter 
into ordinary consciousness. For convenience' sake I have divided these 
automatisms into sensory and motor: on the one hand, the sights and 
sounds which we see and hear through some subliminal faculty rather than 
through the ordinary channels of sense ; on the other hand, the motions 
which we perform, the words which we utter, moved in like manner by 
some unknown impulse from the deeps within. 

The sensory automatisms with which the sixth chapter dealt might be 
regarded, then, as messages transmitted from the subliminal to the supra- 
liminal self. Many of those sensory messages seemed plainly to have been 
originated in the automatist's own mind. These illustrated in a new way 
the coexistence of different series of thought and expressions of thought in 
the same organism, but did not add to the evidence of supernormal 
operations. Other sensory messages, however, there were which the 
agency of a second person also was manifestly needed to explain. Such 
were the telepathic or coincidental hallucinations for which so much 
evidence has been adduced. These definitely indicate, — I should rather 
say that they distinctly prove ^ — a communication between the minds of 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


801] 


83 


living persons, independently of the action of the recognised organs of 
sense. 

But this was not all. In the seventh chapter I went on to show that 
there was no valid reason to suppose that bodily death put a stop to the 
despatch of telepathic messages. By a long series of narratives I endea- 
voured to prove that departed spirits, perhaps as frequently as incarnate 
spirits, have communicated with incarnate spirits, — with living persons, — 
by telepathic sensory messages of the same general type. 

Here then we found a class of evidence — the ghost-story of all ages — 
which has always hung loosely present in human belief, but which now at 
last attains to a real cogency, partly by the improvement in its quality as 
well as in its quantity, but largely also by its juxtaposition with all that 
other telepathic evidence with which it is in fact of kindred type, — and 
which shows the old ghostly stories as no supernatural anomaly, but as 
merely an advanced terra in a progressive series of incidents dependent on 
some coherent, though as yet incomprehensible, law. 

At this point, one may broadly say, we reach the end of the pheno- 
mena whose existence is vaguely familiar to popular talk. And here, too, 
I might fairly claim, the evidence for my primary thesis, — namely, that 
the analysis of man’s personality reveals him as a spirit, surviving death, — 
has attained an amplitude which would justify the reader in accepting that 
view as the provisional hypothesis which comes nearest to a comprehensive 
co-ordination of the actual facts. What we have already recounted seems, 
indeed, impossible to explain except by supposing that otlr inner vision 
has widened or deepened its purview so far as to attain some glimpses of 
a spiritual world in which the individualities of our departed friends still 
actually subsist. 

801. The reader, however, who has followed me thus far must be 
well aware that a large class of phenomena, of high importance, is still 
awaiting discussion. Motor automatisms, — though less familiar to the 
general public than the phantasms which I have classed as sensory auto- 
matisms, — are in fact even commoner, and even more significant. 

Motor automatisms, as I define them, are phenomena of very wide 
range. We have encountered them already many times in this book. We 
met them in the first place in a highly developed form in connection with 
multiplex personality in Chapter II. Numerous instances were there 
given of motor effects, initiated by secondary selves without the knowledge 
of the primary selves, or sometimes in spite of their actual resistance. All 
motor action of a secondary self is an automatism in this sense, in relation 
to the primary self. And of course we might by analogy extend the use 
of the word still further, and might call not only post-epileptic acts, but 
also maniacal acts, automatic ; since they are performed without the 
initiation of the presumedly sane primary personality. Those degenera- 
tive phenomena, indeed, are not to be discussed in this chapter. Yet it 
will be well to pause here long enough to make it clear to the reader just 



84 CHAPTER VIII [802 

what motor automatisms I am about to discuss as evolutive phenomena, 
and as therefore falling within the scope of this treatise; — and what 
kind of relation they bear to the dissolutive motor phenomena which 
occupy so much larger a place in popular knowledge. 

802. In order to meet this last question, I must here give more 
distinct formulation to a thesis which has already suggested itself more 
than once in dealing with special groups of our phenomena. 

It may be expected that supernormal vital phenomena will manifest them- 
selves as far as possible through the same channels as abnormal or morbid 
vital phenomena, when the same centres or the same synergies are involved. 

To illustrate the meaning of this theorem, I may refer to a remark 
long ago made by Edmund Gurney and myself in dealing with Phan- 
tasms of the Living,” or veridical hallucinations, generated (as we main- 
tained), not by a morbid state of the percipient’s brain, but by a telepathic 
impact from an agent at a distance. We observed that if a hallucination 
— a subjective image — is to be excited by this distant energy, it will prob- 
ably be most readily excited in somewhat the same manner as the morbid 
hallucination which follows on a cerebral injury. We urged that this is 
likely to be the case — we showed ground for supposing that it is the case — 
both as regards the mode of evolution of the phantasm in the percipient’s 
brain, and the mode in which it seems to present itself to his senses. 

And here I should wish to give a much wider generality to this prin- 
ciple, and to argue that if there be within us a secondary self aiming at 
manifestation by physiological means, it seems probable that its readiest 
path of extemalisation — its readiest outlet of visible action, — may often lie 
along some track which has already been shown to be a line of low 
resistance by the disintegrating processes of disease. Or, varying the meta- 
phor, we may anticipate that the partition of the primary and the secondary 
self will lie along some plane of cleavage which the 7norbid dissociations of 
our psychical synergies have already shown themselves disposed to follow. 
If epilepsy, madness, &c,, tend to split up our faculties in certain ways, 
automatism is likely to split them up in ways somewhat resembling these. 

This argument might be illustrated by various physical analogies. Let 
us choose as a simple one a musical instrument of limited range. The 
consummate musician can get effects out of this instrument which ,the 
ordinary player cannot rival. But he does this at the risk of evoking 
occasional sounds such as only the most blundering of beginners is wont 
to produce. 

Savages take epilepsy for inspiration. They are thus far right, that 
epilepsy is (so to speak) the temporary destruction of the personality in 
consequence of its own instability, whereas inspiration was assumed to be 
the temporary subjugation of the personality by invasion from without. The 
one case (if I may use the metaphor) was a spontaneous combustion ; the 
other an enkindlement by heavenly fire. In less metaphorical language, 
explosion and exhaustion of the highest nervous centres must have some- 



803] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 85 

what the same look, whatever may have been the nature of the stimulus 
which overcame their stability. 

803. But in what way then, it will be asked, do you distinguish the 
supernormal from the merely abnormal? Why assume that in these aber- 
rant states there is anything besides hysteria, besides epilepsy, besides 
insanity ? 

The answer to this question has virtually been given in previous chap- 
ters of this book. The reader is already accustomed to the point of view 
which regards all psychical as well as all physiological activities as neces- 
sarily either developmental or degenerative, tending to evolution or to dis- 
solution. And now, whilst altogether waiving any teleological speculation, 
I will ask him hypothetically to suppose that an evolutionary nisus^ some- 
thing which we may represent as an effort towards self-development, self- 
adaptation, self-renewal, is discernible especially on the psychical side of 
at any rate the higher forms of life. Our question, Supernormal or abnor- 
mal ? — may then be phrased. Evolutive or dissolutive ? And in studying 
each psychical phenomenon in turn we shall have to inquire whether it 
indicates a mere degeneration of powers already acquired, or, on the other 
hand, the promise and potency,” if not the actual possession, of powers 
as yet unrecognised or unknown. 

Thus, for instance. Telepathy is surely a step in evolution} To learn 
the thoughts of other minds without the mediation of the special senses, 
manifestly indicates the possibility of a vast extension of psychical powers. 
And any knowledge which we can amass as to the conditions under which 
telepathic action takes place, will form a valuable starting-point for an in- 
quiry as to the evolutive or dissolutive character of unfamiliar psychical 
states.^ 

For example, we may learn from our knowledge of telepathy that the 
superficial aspect of certain stages of psychical evolution, like the super- 

1 To avoid misconception, I may point out that this view in no way negatives the 
possibility that telepathy (or its correlative telergy) may be in some of its aspects com- 
moner, or more powerful, among savages than among ourselves. Evolutionary processes 
are not necessarily continuous. The acquirement by our lowly-organised ancestors of the 
sense of smell (for instance) was a step in evolution. But the sense of smell probably 
reached its highest energy in races earlier than man ; and it has perceptibly declined 
even in the short space which separates civilised man from existing savages. Yet if, 
with some change in our environment, the sense of smell again became useful, and we 
reacquired it, this would be none the less an evolutionary process because the evolution 
had been interrupted. 

2 I do not wish to assert that all unfamiliar psychical states are necessarily evolutive 
or dissolutive in any assignable manner. I should prefer to suppose that there are states 
which may better be styled allotropic ; — modifications of the arrangements of nervous 
elements on which our conscious identity depends, but with no more conspicuous 
superiority of the one state over the other than (for instance) charcoal possesses over 
graphite or graphite over charcoal. But there may also be states in which the (meta- 
phorical) carbon becomes diamond ; — ^with so much at least of advance on previous states 
as is involved in the substitution of the crystalline for the amorphous structure. 



86 CHAPTER VIII [804 

ficial aspect of certain stages of physiological evolution, may resemble mere 
inhibition^ or mere perturbation. But the inhibition may involve latent 
dynamogeny, and the perturbation may mask evolution. The hypnotised 
subject may pass through a lethargic stage before he wakes into a state in 
which he has gained community oj sensation with the operator ; somewhat 
as the silkworm (to use the oldest and the most suggestive of all illustra- 
tions) passes through the apparent torpor of the cocoon-stage before evolv- 
ing into the moth. Again, the automatist’s hand (as we shall presently see) 
is apt to pass through a stage of inco-ordinated movements, which might 
almost be taken for choreic, before it acquires the power of ready and in- 
telligent writing. Similarly the development, for instance, of a tooth may 
be preceded by a stage of indefinite aching, which might be ascribed to 
the formation of an abscess, did not the new tooth ultimately show itself. 
And still more striking cases of a perturbation which masks evolution might 
be drawn from the history of the human organism as it develops into its 
own maturity, or prepares for the appearance of the fresh human organism 
which is to succeed it. 

Analogy, therefore, both physiological and psychical, warns us not to 
conclude that any given psychosis is merely degenerative until we have 
e;}camined its results closely enough to satisfy ourselves whether they tend 
to bring about any enlargement of human powers, to open any new inlet 
to the reception of objective truth. If such there prove to be, then, with 
whatever morbid activities the psychosis may have been intertwined, it 
contains indications of an evolutionary nisus as well. 

804. These remarks, I hope, may have sufficiently cleared the 
ground to admit of our starting afresh on the consideration of such motor 
automatisms as are at any rate not morbid in their effect on the organ- 
ism, and which I now have to show to be evolutive in ' character. I 
maintain that we have no valid ground for assuming that the movements 
which are not due to our conscious will must be less important, and 
less significant, than those that are. We observe, of course, that in the 
organic region the movements which are not due to conscious will are 
really the most important of all, though the voluntary movements by 
^hich a man seeks food and protects himself against enemies are also 
of great practical importance — he must first live and multiply if he 
is to leani and know. But we must guard against confusing import- 
ance for immediate practical life with importance for science — on which 
even practical life ultimately depends. As soon as the task of living and 
multiplying is no longer all-engrossing, we begin to change our relative 
estimate of values, and to find that it is not the broad and obvious 
phenomena, but the residual and elusive phenomena, which are oftenest 
likely to introduce us to new avenues of knowledge, I wish to persuade 
my readers that this is quite as truly the case in psychology as in physics. 

I may say at once that some of the automatic movements with which 
we shall have to deal — certain utterances and writings given in a state of 



805] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 87 

possession — must rank, in my view, among the most important pheno- 
mena yet observed by man. For their proper study we need far more of 
introductory matter than in these volumes I can possibly give. I shall at 
any rate, therefore, make no apology for the ambages et longa exorsa — the 
long and tortuous approach — through which my reader, I fear, must follow 
me, if he is at last to discover any connection and congruity between those 
trance-messages and the structure of his own previous knowledge. I shall 
at any rate not attempt to conceal my own ignorances and uncertainties ; 
but shall grope about, so to say, before my reader’s eyes, indicating again 
and again where our insight at present ends, and repeating again and 
again, from different points of view, and with fresh illustrations, those im- 
perfect, yet important, fragments of knowledge which I hold that we have 
in fact attained. 

805. As a first step in our analysis, we may point out certain main 
characters which unite in a true class all the automatisms which we are 
here considering — greatly though these may differ among themselves in 
external form. 

In the first place, then, our automatisms are independent phenomena ; 
they are what the physician calls idiognomonic. That is to say, they are not 
merely symptomatic of some other affection, or incidental to some pro- 
founder change. The mere fact, for instance, that a man writes messages 
which he does not consciously originate will not, when taken alone, prove 
anything beyond this fact itself as to the writer’s condition. He may be 
perfectly sane, in normal health, and with nothing unusual observable 
about him. This characteristic — provable by actual observation and 
experiment — distinguishes our automatisms from various seemingly kindred 
phenomena. Thus we may have to include in our class the occasional 
automatic utterance of words or sentences. But the continuous exhausting 
vociferation of acute mania does not fall within our province ; for those 
shouts are merely symptomatic ; nor, again, does the cri hydrocephaliqtte 
(or spontaneous meaningless noise which sometimes accompanies water on 
the brain) ; for that, too, is no independent phenomenon, but the direct 
consequence of a definite lesion. Furthermore, we shall have to include 
in our class certain simple movements of the hands, co-ordinated into the 
act of writing. But here, also, our definition will lead us to exclude 
choreic movements, which are merely symptomatic of nervous mal-nutri- 
tion ; or which we may, if we choose, call idiopathic, as constituting an 
independent malady. But our automatisms are not idiopathic but idio- 
gnomonic ; they may indeed be associated with or facilitated by certain 
states of the organism, but they are neither a symptom of any other malady, 
nor are they a malady in themselves. 

Agreeing, then, that our peculiar class consists of automatisms which are 
idiognomonic, — whose existence does not necessarily imply the existence 
of some profounder affection already known as producing them, — we have 
still to look for some more positive bond of connection between them 



CHAPTER VIII 


88 


[806 


some quality common to all of them, and which makes them worth our 
prolonged investigation. 

This we shall find in the fact that they are all of them message-bearing 
or nunciative automatisms. I do not, of course, mean that they all of 
them bring messages from sources external to the automatisms own mind. 
In some cases they probably do this ; but as a rule the so-called messages 
seem more probably to originate within the automatist’s own personality. 
Why, then, it may be asked, do I call them messages ? We do not usually 
speak of a man as sending a message to himself. The answer to this 
question involves, as we shall presently see, the profoundest conception 
of these automatisms to which we can as yet attain. They present them- 
selves to us as messages communicated from one stratum to another 
stratum of the same personality. Originating in some deeper zone of a 
man’s being, they float up into superficial consciousness as deeds, visions, 
words, ready-made and full-blown, without any accompanying perception 
of the elaborative process which has made them what they are. 

806. Can we then (we may next ask) in any way predict the possible 
range of these motor automatisms ? Have we any limit assignable a priori^ 
outside which it would be useless to look for any externalisation of an 
impulse emanating from sub-conscious strata of our being? 

The answer to this must be that no such limit can be with any con- 
fidence suggested. We have not yet learnt with any distinctness even 
how far the wave from a conscioxisly-^^xztivt^ stimulus will spread, or what 
changes its motion will assume. Still less can we predict the limitations 
which the resistance of the organism will impose on the radiation of a 
stimulus originated within itself. We are learning to consider the human 
organism as a practically infinite complex of interacting vibrations ; and 
each year adds many new facts to our knowledge of the various trans- 
formations which these vibrations may undergo, and of the unexpected 
artifices by which we may learn to cognise some stimulus which is not 
directly felt. 

A few concrete instances will make my meaning plainer. And my 
first example shall be taken from those experiments in muscle-reading — 
less correctly termed mind-reading — ^with which the readers of these 
Proceedings are already familiar. Let us suppose that I am to hide a pin, 
and that some accomplished muscle-reader is to take my hand and find 
the pin by noting my muscular indications.^ I first hide the pin ijn the 
hearth-rug; then I change my mind and hide it in the bookshelf. I fix 
my mind on the bookshelf, but resolve to make no guiding movement. 
The muscle-reader takes my hand, leads me first to the rug, then to the 
bookshelf, and finds the pin. Now, what has happened in this case? 
What movements have I made? 

Firstly, I have made no voluntary movement ; and secondly, I have 
made no conscious involuntary movement. But, thirdly, I have made an 
1 See, for instance, Proceedings S.P.R., vol. i. p. 291* 



807] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 89 

unconscious involuntary movement which directly depended on conscious 
ideation. I strongly thought of the bookshelf, and when the bookshelf 
was reached in our vague career about the room I made a movement — 
say rather a tremor occurred — in ray hand, which, although beyond both 
my knowledge and my control, was enough to supply to the muscle- 
reader’s delicate sensibility all the indication required. All this is now 
admitted, and, in a sense, understood ;* we formulate it by saying that my 
conscious ideation contained a motor element; and that this motor 
element, though inhibited from any conscious manifestation, did yet 
inevitably externalise itself in a peripheral tremor. 

But, fourthly, something more than this has clearly taken place. 
Before the muscle-reader stopped at the bookshelf he stopped at the rug. 
I was no longer consciously thinking of the rug ; but the idea of the pin 
in the rug must still have been reverberating, so to say, in my sub-con- 
scious region ; and this unconscious memory, this unnoted reverberation, 
revealed itself in a peripheral tremor nearly as distinct as that which 
(when the bookshelf was reached) corresponded to the strain of conscious 
thought. 

This tremor, then, was in a certain sense a message-bearing auto- 
matism. It was the externalisation of an idea which, once conscious, had 
become unconscious, though in the slightest conceivable degree — namely, 
by a mere slight escape from the field of direct attention. 

807. Having, then, considered an instance where the automatic 
message passes only between two closely-adjacent strata of consciousness, 
externalising an impulse derived from an idea which has only recently 
sunk out of consciousness and which could easily be summoned back 
again; — ^let us find our next illustration in a case where the line of 
demarcation between the strata of consciousness through which the 
automatic message pierces is distinct and impassable by any effort 
of will. 

Let us take a case of post-hypnotic suggestion — say, for instance, an 
experiment of Edmund Gurney’s (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 319). 
The subject had been trained to write with planchette, after he had been 
awakened, the statements which had been made to him when in the 
hypnotic trance. He wrote the desired words, or something like them, 
but while he wrote them his waking self was entirely unaware of what his 
hand <^as writing. Thus, having been told in the trance, “It has begun 
snowing again,” he wrote after waking, “ It begun snowing,” while he read 
aloud, with waking intelligence, from a book of stories, and was quite 
unconscious of what his hand (placed on a planchette behind a screen) 
was at the same time writing. 

Here we have an automatic message of traceable origin ; a message 
implanted in the hypnotic stratum of the subject’s self, and cropping up 
— like a fault — in the waking stratum, — externalised in automatic move- 
ments which the waking self could neither predict nor guide. 



90 


CHAPTER VIII 


[808 

808, Yet once more. In the discussion which will follow we shall 
have various instances of the transformation (as I shall regard it) of 
psychical shock into definite muscular energy of apparently a quite alien 
kind. Such transformations of so-called psychical into physical force — 
of will into motion — do of course perpetually occur within us. But the 
nature of these is commonly much obscured by the problem as to the 
true efficacy of the will; and it seems desirable to cite one or two 
examples of such transmutation where the process is what we call auto- 
matic, and we seem to detect the simple muscular correlative — the motor 
equivalent — to some emotion or sensation which contains no obvious 
motor element at all. 

An easy, though a rough, way of testing transmutations of this kind 
is afforded by the dynamometer. It is necessary first to discover the 
amount of pressure which the subject of experiment can exert on the 
dynamometer, by squeezing it with all the force at his command, in his 
ordinary condition. After he has had a little practice his highest attain- 
able force of squeeze becomes nearly constant ; and it is then possible to 
subject him to various stimuli, and to measure the degree of response ; 
that is, the degree in which his squeeze becomes either more or less power- 
ful while the stimulus is applied. The experiments are, in fact, a sort of 
elaboration of a familiar phenomenon. I take a child to a circus ; he sits 
by me holding my hand ; there is a discharge of musketry and his grip 
tightens. Now in this case we should call the child’s tightened grip 
automatic. But suppose that, instead of merely holding my hand, he is 
trying with all his might to squeeze the dynamometer, and that the sudden 
excitation enables him to squeeze it harder — are we then to describe that 
extra squeeze as automatic? or as voluntary? 

However phrased, it is the fact (as amply established by M. F6r6 
and others^) that excitations of almost any kind — whether sudden and 
startling or agreeable and prolonged — do tend to increase the subject’s 
dynamometrical power. In the first place, and this is in itself an impor- 
tant fact, the average of squeezing-power is found to be greater among 
educated students than among robust labouring men, thus showing that it 
is not so much developed muscle as active brain which renders possible a 
sudden concentration of muscular force. But more than this; M. F6r6 
finds that with himself and his friends the mere listening to an interesting 
lecture, or the mere stress of thought in solitude, or still more the act of 
writing or of speech, produces a decided increase of strength in the grip, 
especially of the right hand. The same effect of dynamogeny is produced 
with hypnotic subjects, by musical sounds, by coloured light, especially red 
light, and even by a hallucinatory suggestion of red light ^^All our 
sensations,” says M. in conclusion, “ are accompanied by a develop- 
ment of potential energy, which passes into a kinetic state, and externalises 


1 Sensation et Momement^ par Ch. F^ri. Paris; Alcan, 1887, 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


809 ] 


91 


itself in motor manifestations which even so rough a method as dynamo- 
metry is able to observe and record.” 

I would beg the reader to keep these words in mind. We shall pre- 
sently find that a method apparently even rougher than dynamographic 
tracings may be able to interpret, with far greater delicacy, the automatic 
tremors which are coursing to and fro within us. If once we can get a 
spy into the citadel of our own being, his rudest signalling will tell us 
more than our subtlest inferences from outside of what is being planned 
and done within. 

809. Further illustrations might easily be here given. But for brevity's 
sake I pass on to the automatic messages which form our special subject, 
trusting that the specimens above given of motor externalisations of unex- 
pected kinds may have led the reader to feel that experiment alone can 
tell us how far such delicate motor indications may in fact be traceable ; 
how much of information may pass from one stratum of our consciousness 
to another, and in a form how strangely transmuted. And having now to 
deal with what I define as messages conveyed by one stratum in man to 
another stratum, I must first consider in what general ways human mes- 
sages can be conveyed. Writing and speech have become predominant 
in the intercourse of civilised men, and it is to writing and speech that we 
look with most interest among the communications of the subliminal 
self. But it does not follow that the subliminal self will always have 
such complex methods at its command. We have seen already that it 
often finds it hard to manage the delicate co-ordinations of muscular move- 
ment required for writing, — that the attempt at automatic script ends in a 
thump and a scrawl. Does the history of animal communication suggest 
to us to try any easier, more rudimentary plan ? 

The first communications of animals are by gesture ; and even when 
sound is added this is at first only a specialised kind of gesture. The 
higher animals discriminate their calls; man develops speech; and the 
message-giving impulse parts into the main channels of movement — move- 
ment of the throat and movement of the hand. The hand-gestures — 
high as heaven,” homed like a stag,” and so forth — develop in their 
turn into the rude drawing of objects ; and this graphic impulse again 
divides along two channels- On the one hand it develops into the 
pictorial and plastic arts, conve 3 dng its messages through what may be 
termed a direct, as opposed to an arbitrary symbolism. On the other 
hand it assimilates itself to the laws of speech, it becomes ideographic ; 
and gradually merging direct into arbitrary symbolism it becomes alpha- 
betical script, arithmetic, algebra, telegraphy. 

But the word telegraphy suggests to us that in recent times a fresh 
beginning has had to be made in human communication; modes have 
had to be invented by which a civilised man, disposing only of a few 
simple movements, — the deflections of the indicating needle, — might attain 
to the precision of grammatical speech. This, as we know, has been easily 



92 CHAPTER VIII [809 

effected; and the mere repetition of one or two simple movements at 
varied intervals suffices, to eye or ear, for all the purposes of an alphabet. 

Now we shall find, perhaps, among the communications of the sub- 
liminal self parallels to all these varying modes of communication. But 
since the subliminal self, like the telegraphist, begins its effort with full 
knowledge, indeed, of the alphabet, but with only weak and rude command 
over our muscular adjustments, it is a priori likely that its easiest mode 
of communication will be through a repetition of simple movements, so 
arranged as to correspond to letters of the alphabet. 

And here, I think, we have attained to a conception of the mysterious 
and much-derided phenomenon of “ table- tilting ” which enables us to 
correlate it with known phenomena, and to start at least from an intelligible 
basis, and on a definite line of inquiry. 

A few words are needed to explain what are the verifiable phenomena, 
and the less verifiable hypotheses, connoted by such words as ^^table- 
turning,’* ^'spirit-rapping,** and the like. 

If one or more persons of a special type, — at present definable only 
by the question-begging and barbarous term " mediumistic,** — remain 
quietly for some time with hands in contact with some easily movable 
object, and desiring its movement, that object will sometimes begin to 
move. If, further, they desire it to indicate letters of the alphabet by its 
movements, — as by tilting once for twice for b, &c., it will often do so, 
and answers unexpected by any one present will be obtained. 

Thus far, whatever our interpretation, we are in the region of easily 
reproducible facts, which many of my readers may confirm for themselves 
if they please. 

But beyond the simple movements — or table-turning — and the intelli- 
gible responses — or table-tilting — both of which are at least primd facie 
physically explicable by the sitters* unconscious pressure, without postu- 
lating any unknown physical force at all, — it is alleged by many persons 
that further physical phenomena occur ; namely, that the table moves in a 
direction, or with a violence, which no unconscious pressure can explain ; 
and also that percussive sounds or “ raps ” occur, which no unconscious 
action, or indeed no agency known to us, could produce. These raps 
communicate messages like the tilts, and it is to them that the name of 
" spirit-rapping *’ is properly given. But spiritualists generally draw little 
distinction between these four phenomena — ^mere table-turning, responsive 
table- tilting, movements of inexplicable vehemence, and responsive raps — 
attributing all alike to the agency of departed spirits of men and women, 
or at any rate to disembodied intelligences of some kind or other. 

I am not at present discussing the physical phenomena of Spiritualism, 
and I shall therefore leave on one side all the alleged movements and 
noises of this kind for which unconscious pressure will not account. I do 
not prejudge the question as to their real occurrence ; but assuming that 
such disturbances of the physical order do occur, there is at least no prim& 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


93 


810] 

facie need to refer them to disembodied spirits. If a table moves when 
no one is touching it, this is not obviously more likely to have been 
effected by my deceased grandfather than by myself. We cannot tell how 
/ could move it ; but then we cannot tell how he could move it either. 
The question must be argued on its merits in each case ; and our present 
argument is not therefore vitiated by our postponement of this further 
problem. 

810. Before M. Richet ^ I believe that no writer, outside the Spiritual- 
istic group, so much as showed any practical knowledge of this phenomenon, 
— still less endeavoured to explain it. Faraday’s well-known explanation of 
table-turning as the result of the summation of many unconscious move- 
ments — obviously true as it is for some of the simplest cases of table- 
movement — does not touch this far more difficult question of the 
origination of these intelligent messages, conveyed by distinct and repeated 
movements of some object admitting of ready displacement. The ordinary 
explanation — I am speaking, of course, of cases where fraud is not in 
question — is that the sitter unconsciously sets going and stops the move- 
ments so as to shape the word in accordance with his expectation. Now 
that he unconsciously sets going and stops the movements is part of my 
own present contention, but that the word is thereby shaped in accordance 
with his expectation is often far indeed from being the case. Several 
of the examples in the Appendices to this chapter illustrate the bizarre 
capriciousness of these replies — their want of relation to anything antici- 
pated or desired by the persons in contact with the table. Similar 
instances might be indefinitely multiplied ; but any one who is really 
willing to take the requisite trouble can satisfy himself on this point by 
experiment with a sufficiently varied list of trustworthy friends. To those 
indeed who are familiar with automatic written messages, this question as 
to the unexpectedness of the tilted messages will present itself in a new 
light. If the written messages originate in a source beyond the auto- 
matisms supraliminal self, so too may the tilted messages ; — even though 
we admit that the tilts are caused by his hand’s pressure of the table 
just as directly as the script by his hand’s manipulation of the pen. 

One piece of evidence which I have cited (in 830 A) in order to 
show that written messages were not always the mere echo of expectation, 
was a case where anagrams were automatically written, which their writer 
was not at once able to decipher. Following this hint, I have occasionally 
succeeded in getting anagrams tilted out for myself by movements of a 
small table which I alone touched. I should add that although, as I have 
elsewhere mentioned, I have never succeeded in writing automatically, I 
have nevertheless, after some hundreds of trials, continued over many 
years, attained the power of eliciting by unconscious pressure tilted re- 
sponses which do not emanate from my own conscious self. That they do, 


1 La Suggestion Mentale (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iL pp. 239 sqq.). 



94 CHAPTER VIII [811 

however, emanate from so7ne stratum of my being — from that fragmentary 
and incoherent workshop where dreams are strung together — seems to me, 
as already indicated, the most probable hypothesis. 

The anagrams — or rather jumbles of letters forming a short word — 
which I have myself obtained, have been of the simplest kind. But occa- 
sionally I have not at once recognised the word thus given, but have been 
aware of a distinct interval before the word which my own unconscious 
muscular action had thus confusedly ^'tilted out” was grasped by my 
conscious intelligence. This is a kind of experiment which might with 
advantage be oftener repeated ; for the extreme incoherence and silliness 
of the responses thus obtained does not prevent the process itself from 
being in a high degree instructive. Here, again (as in the automatic 
writing of the ^^Clelia” case, 830 A), a man may hold colloquy with his 
own dream — may note in actual juxtaposition two separate strata of his 
own intelligence. 

I shall not at present pursue the discussion of these tilted responses 
beyond this their very lowest and most rudimentary stage. They almost 
immediately suggest another problem, for which our discussion is hardly 
ripe, the participation, namely, of several minds in the production of the 
same automatic message. There is something of this difficulty, even in 
the explanation of messages given when the hands of two persons are 
touching a planchette ; but when the instrument of response is large, and 
the method of response simple, as with table-tilting, we find this question 
of the influence of more minds than one imperatively recurring. 

811. Our immediate object, however, is rather to correlate the differ- 
ent attainable modes of automatic response in some intelligible scheme 
than to pursue any one of them through all its phases. We regarded the 
table-tilting process as in one sense the simplest, the least-differentiated 
form of motor response. It is a kind of gesture merely, though a gesture 
implying knowledge of the alphabet. Let us see in what directions the 
movement of response becomes more specialised, — as gesture parts into 
pictorial art and articulate speech. We find, in fact, that, a just similar 
divergence of impulses takes place in automatic response. On the one 
hand the motor impulse specialises itself into drawing; on the other hand 
it specialises itself into speech. Of automatic drawing I have already said 
something (Chapter III. 324) . Automatic speech will receive detailed 
treatment in Chapter IX. At present I shall only briefly indicate the 
position of each form of movement among cognate automatisms. 

Some of my readers may have seen these so-called spirit-drawings,” 
— designs, sometimes in colour, whose author asserts that he drew them 
without any plan, or even knowledge of what his hand was going to do. 
This assertion may be quite true, and the person making it may be per- 
fectly sane.^ The drawings so made will be found curiously accordant 

1 See the quotations from Mr. Wilkinson's book in 811 A. But, of coutse, like 
other automatic impulses, this impulse to decorative or symbolical drawing is sometimes 



812] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 95 

with what the view which I am explaining would lead us to expect. For 
they exhibit a fusion of arabesque with ideography ; that is to say, they 
partly resemble the forms of ornamentation into which the artistic hand 
strays when, as it were, dreaming on the paper without definite plan ; and 
partly they afford a parallel to the early attempts at s 5 nnbolic self-expres« 
sion of savages who have not yet learnt an alphabet. Like savage writing, 
they pass by insensible transitions from direct pictorial symbolism to an 
abbreviated ideography, mingled in its turn with writing of a fantastic or 
of an ordinary kind. 

812. And here, before we enter on the study of automatic writing, 
I shall somewhat break the thread of discussion in order to refer at length 
to two great historic cases of automatism, which may, perhaps, be most 
fitly introduced here as a kind of prologue to what is to follow. One case, 
that of Socrates, is a case of monitory inhibitioft ; the other, that of Jeanne 
d’Arc, of monitory impulse. Each case, moreover, is instructive as regards 
the substance of the messages, and also as regards the character and capac- 
ity of the percipient. I begin with that great historical instance, — an 
instance well observed and well attested, although remote in date, which 
will at once have occurred to every reader. 

The Founder of Science himself, — the permanent type of sanity, 
shrewdness, physical robustness, and moral balance, — was guided in all 
the affairs of life by a monitory Voice, — by the Daemon of Socrates.^* 
This is a case which can never lose its interest, a case which has been 
vouched for by the most practical, and discussed by the loftiest intellect of 
Greece, — both of them intimate friends of the illustrious subject ; — a case, 
therefore, which one who endeavours to throw new light on hallucination 
and automatism is bound, even at this distance of time, to endeavour to 
explain. And this is the more needful, since a treatise was actually 
written, a generation ago, as ^‘a specimen of the application of the 
science of psychology to the science of history,” arguing from the records 
of the 8at/xovcov in Xenophon and Plato that Socrates was in fact 
insane.^ 

I believe that it is now possible to give a truer explanation ; to place 
these old records in juxtaposition with more instructive parallels; and 
to show that the messages which Socrates received were only advanced 
examples of a process which, if supernormal, is not abnormal, and which 
characterises that form of intelligence which we describe as genius. For 
genius (as we have seen), is best defined — not as '^an unlimited capacity 

seen at its maximtun in insane patients. Some drawings of an insane patient, repro- 
duced in the American Journal of Psychology^ June 1888, show a noticeable analogy (in 
my view ^.predictable analogy) with some of the “ spirit-drawings '' above discussed. See 
also the Martian landscapes of H^l^ne Smith, in Professor Flournoy’s Des Indes h la 
planiie Mars, referred to below, sections 834 et seq. 

1 Du Dimon de Socrate^ &c., by L. F. L^lut, Membre de I’Institut. Nouvellc 
Edition, 1856. 



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[813 


of taking pains” — but rather as a mental constitution which allows a 
man to draw readily into supraliminal life the products of subliminal 
thought. 

813. I have already urged that beneath the superficially conscious 
stratum of our being there is not only a stratum of dream and confusion, 
but a still subjacent stratum of coherent mentation as well. This thesis, I 
think, is strongly supported by the records which have come down to us 
as to the Daemon of Socrates. We shall see that the monitions which 
Socrates thus received were for the most part such as his own wiser self 
might well have given, and that where the limits of knowledge attainable 
by his own inmost reflection may possibly have been transcended, they 
seem to have been transcended in such direction as a clairvoyant develop- 
ment of his own faculties might allow, rather than in such a way as to 
suggest the intervention of any external power. Let us try to analyse the 
nature of the 'Mivine interventions” actually recorded by Socrates* con- 
temporaries. The voice, it should be remarked, was always a voice of 
restraint; its silence implied approval. In the first place Xenophon's 
testimony completely establishes the fact He desires, in defending bis 
friend and master from the charge of impiety, to make as little as 
may be of the matter ; but what he says is quite enough to prove — if such 
proof were needed — that the 8at/xovtov (monitory voice) is no metaphor, 
but is to be taken literally as a notorious and repeated incident in Soc- 
rates* life. 

First then,’* he says,^ ^^as to his not worshipping the gods whom the 
city worships, what evidence was there of this ? He sacrificed constantly, 
and obviously used the art of divination ; for it was matter of .notoriety 
that Socrates said that to SatjULoViov — the divine Providence — gave him 
indications; and this indeed was the principal reason for accusing him 
of introducing new gods.*’ 

The instances where such indication was given may be divided into 
three heads. 

First come the cases where the warning voice — or its equally significant 
absence — gives proof of a sagacity at least equal to that of the waking 
Socrates, and decides him to action, or to abstention from action, which 
he professes always to have recognised as right and wise. 

Next come the cases where the monition implies some sort of knowl- 
edge not dependent on any external source, yet not attainable by ordinary 
means ; — as a knowledge of potential rapport (to use the term of the elder 
mesmerists) , or special relation between two organisms. 

And, lastly, come one or two doubtful cases where, if they be correctly 
reported, there was something like clairvoyance, or extension of the 
ordinary purview of sense. 

The first of these classes contains the great majority of the recorded 
cases, whether small or great matters are concerned. And it is noticeable 
1 Xen. Memorabilia, i. i. 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


97 


813] 

that the monition frequently occurred in reference to mere trifles, and had 
been a habitual phenomenon for Socrates from childhood upwards, both 
of which points are eminently in analogy with what we know of other 
automatisms. Let us take first some trivial cases. 

1. In the Euthydemus of Plato, Socrates is about to quit the palaestra; 
the sign detains him; young men enter, and profitable conversation 
ensues. 

2. In the Phadrus^ Socrates, when leaving his resting-place, is detained 
by the sign, which thus leads him to a discourse which he had not intended 
to utter — ^Eifju fidvrcs fjih / — I am, it seems, a prophet,^’ he then remarks, 
''but only just enough for my private use and benefit.” 

3. In the Eirsf Alcibiades the sign restrains him from speaking to 
Alcibiades until the latter is old enough to understand him aright. 

There are also various cases where Socrates dissuades his friends from 
expeditions which ultimately turn to their harm. None of these are in 
our sense evidential; and in some of them (as in the case of the Athenian 
expedition against Syracuse) ordinary sagacity might have given the same 
warning. The case of Timarchus (Plato, Theages) is the most dramatic of 
these warnings. 

Timarchus was sitting at supper with Socrates, and rose to go out 
to a plot of assassination, to which plot only one other man was privy. 
"'What say you, Socrates?’ said Timarchus, ' do you continue drinking? 
I must go out somewhither ; but will return in a little, if so I may.’ And 
the voice came to me ; and I said to him, ' By no means rise from table ; 
for the accustomed divine sign has come to me.’ And he stayed. And 
after a time again he got up to go, and said, ' I must be gone, Socrates.’ 
And the sign came to me again ; and again I made him stay. And the 
third time, determining that I should not see, he rose and said naught to 
me, when my mind was turned elsewhere ; and thus he went forth, and 
was gone, and did that which was to be his doom.” 

We cannot now tell what the evidential value of this case may have 
been. There may have been that in the countenance of one of them 
who sat at meat, which may have shown to Socrates that the hand of an 
assassin was with him on the table. 

But, among these monitions of Socrates, a certain silence of the warning 
voice on one last occasion was held by Socrates himself, and has since 
been reputed, as the most noteworthy of all. This was when Socrates, 
accused on a capital charge of impiety, from which he might have freed 
himself by far less of retractation than has been consented to by many a 
martyr, refused altogether to retract, to excuse himself, to explain away ; 
claiming rather, in one of the first and noblest of all assertions of the law 
of conscience as supreme, that he deserved to be supported at the public 
cost in the Prytaneum, as a man devoted to the mission of a moral teacher 
of men. The divine sign, as has been said, came only to warn or to re- 
strain ; when it was absent, all was well. And throughout the whole series 
VOL. n. o 



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of events which led to Socrates* death, the voice intervened once only, — 
to check him from preparing any speech in his own defence. Thereafter, 
by an emphatic silence, it approved the various steps by which the philo- 
sopher brought on his own head that extreme penalty which, save for 
his own inflexible utterances, the Dikastery would not have ventured to 
inflict. 

“ There has happened to me, O my judges,’* he said in his last speech 
after sentence passed, a wonderful thing. For that accustomed divine 
intimation in time past came to me very many times, and met me on slight 
occasion, if I were about to act in some way not aright ; but now this fate 
which ye behold has come upon me, — this which a man might deem, and 
which is considered, the very worst of ills. Yet neither when I left my 
home this morning was I checked by that accustomed sign ; nor when I 
came up hither to the judgment-hall, nor at any point in my speech as I 
spoke. And yet in other speeches of mine the sign has often stopped me 
in the midst. But now it has not hindered me in any deed or word of 
mine connected with this present business. What then do I suppose to 
be the reason thereof ? I will tell you, I think it is that what has hap- 
pened to me has been a good thing ; and we must have been mistaken 
when we supposed that death was an evil. Herein is a strong proof to me 
of this ; for that accustomed sign would assuredly have checked me, had 
I been about to do aught that was evil.” 

I dwell upon this incident ; for in the history of inward messages no 
such scene is likely to recur. We shall never again see such a man at such 
a moment drawing strength from the silence of the monitory utterance 
which came to him as from without himself, though it were from the depths 
of his own soul. 

814. The next class of the Socratic monitions can only be briefly 
dealt with here. They touch on that singular phenomenon of so-called 
rapport which is to us at present and has long been in the eyes of Science 
an unexplained and a very disputable thing ; but on which recent hypnotic 
experiments are slowly bringing us to look as in some sense a reality. In 
modern terms we should say that the disciples of Socrates were influenced 
not so much by his instruction as by his suggestmi ; and that some inward 
and perhaps telepathic instinct — expressed by the monitory voice whose 
utterances we are analysing — informed him without conscious considera- 
tion whether his intending disciples were receptive to his suggestion or no. 
It is in the Platonic dialogue Theages that this aspect of the divine moni- 
tion is most insisted on, 

I never learnt from you,” says a certain Aristeides to Socrates, '^any- 
thing at all. You yourself well know this. But I always made progress 
whenever I was along with you, even if I were in the same house but not 
in the same room ; yet most when I was in the same room ; and even in 
the same room I got on better if I looked at you when you were speaking 
than if I looked anywhere else. But I got on far the best of all when I 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


99 


814] 

was sitting near you and holding or touching you. But now, said he, all 
my then character has dribbled out of me.” NiV 3/, ^ 3*os, Tracra €Ktivq 

rj iieppmjKO/. 

I would not insist too strongly on an interpretation which may seem 
merely fanciful. But nevertheless we should be puzzled to find Greek 
words more expressive of the gradual dissipation and disappearance of a 
post-hypnotic suggestion, — the melting away of some imparted energy in 
well-doing as the subject is removed from the operator's influence. And 
that the possibility of some rapport of this kind should be indicated, not 
by conscious thought but by a message emanating from some sub-conscious 
phase of a man’s being; — this, too, is a phenomenon to which modern ex- 
perience furnishes not unfrequent analogies. 

The third class of Socratic monitions which I have mentioned rests on 
very slender evidence. We cannot be sure that the monitory sign ever 
warned him of anything which no possible sagacity of the ordinary kind 
could have led him to discover. As is natural in the beginning of such 
inquiries, the cases cited to illustrate this supposed supernormal knowledge 
are mainly interesting and important incidents ; and it is precisely in rela- 
tion to such incidents that some unconscious guess is likely to have been 
made. What we should like would be just what Plato had omitted ; — 
specimens, namely, of the trivial cases where the divine warning saved the 
philosopher from some momentary mishap. Of this sort I can find one 
only ; and that is merely a tradition, given in Plutarch’s essay De Genio 
Socratis, Socrates, according to this story (which Plutarch puts into the 
mouth of a supposed eye-witness), is walking and talking with Euthyphron, 
but stops suddenly, and 'calls his friends to turn back by another street. 
Most of them follow him, but others keep on their way, and presently meet 
a great herd of swine who knock down some of them and befoul the rest. 
‘^Charillus” (who had thus braved Socrates’ warning) ‘‘returned home 
with legs and clothes all full of mire, — so that we all remembered Socrates’ 
familiar spirit, with roars of laughter, marvelling how the Divinity had care 
of him continually.” 

One more remark. Among the most singular incidents in Socrates’ life 
were those pauses of immobility, frequently lasting for hours, and once, as 
reported, for a consecutive day and night, when he was inaccessible to any 
outward stimulus, and remained fixed as in a deep contemplation. Medical 
readers have seen that there must have been more than mere contempla- 
tion here ; and L61ut has treated these accesses as a kind of stupor attoni- 
tus — of bewildered paralysis of all intellectual operation, such as is seen in 
minds overbalanced by some terrible shock. I cannot accept the parallel, 
nor believe that symptoms so grave can supervene in robust health and 
disappear without leaving a trace behind. Nor, again, is there anything 
which suggests epilepsy. I believe the accesses to have been accesses of 
ecstasy^ reached, as in some rare cases, without any previous hysterical dis- 
turbance ; and indicating (as I hold) a subliminal self, so powerful and 



CHAPTER VIII 


100 


[815 


so near the surface that some slight accident sufficed to determine its tem- 
porary predominance over the whole man. 

But I must now leave the story of Socrates, rich in unworked psycho- 
logical suggestion, but cited here only as an example of wise automatism ; 
of the possibility that the messages which are conveyed to the supra- 
liminal mind from subliminal strata of the personality, — whether as 
sounds, as sights, or as movements, — may sometimes come from far 
beneath the realm of dream and confusion, — from some self whose moni- 
tions convey to us a wisdom profounder than we know. 

815. The case, assuredly, is a marked one; but it may be thought 
to be too exceptional for the purpose of my argument. Socrates, it may 
be said, was too strangely above ordinary men to allow us to draw wider 
inferences from this unique example. It might be well if we could add a 
case not complicated by such towering genius ; — a case where some one 
with no previously manifested gifts of nature, with no incomprehensible 
workings of the soul, had, nevertheless, by monitory' voices been taught 
wisdom and raised to honour, — and who, if so it might be, had testified 
to the reality of the inward message by some witness which the world 
could not gainsay. And such a case there is ; there is a figure in history 
unique and marvellous, but marvellous in this point alone. One there 
has been who was born with no opportunities of education, and in no 
high or powerful place, but to whom voices came from childhood onwards, 
and brought at length a strange command ; — one who by mere obedience 
to that monitory call rose to be the saviour of a great nation ; — one to 
whose lot it fell to push that obedience to its limit, and to pledge life for 
truth ; to perish at the stake rather than disown those voices or disobey 
that inward law. 

I speak, of course, of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, the national 
heroine of France ; whose name crowns the poet^s list of those famous 
women of old time who have vanished like the snows of yester-year.’^ 


“ La ro 3 nie blanche comme ung lys 
Qui chantoit a voix de serein e, 
Berthe au grant pied, Bi^tris, Aliys, 
Haremboures qui tint le Mayne, 

Et Jehanne la bonne Lorraine 
Qu' Anglois brusl6rent ^ Rouen, 

Oh sont-ilz, Vierge souveraine ? 
Mais oh sont les neiges d^antan ? 


I must be excused for dwelling on this signal example ; for 1 believe 
that only now, with the comprehension which we are gradually gaining 
of the possibility of an impulse from the mind’s deeper strata which is 
so far from madness that it is wiser than our sanity itself, — only now, I 
repeat, can we understand aright that familiar story. I shall not repeat 
its incidents in detail ; but shall draw my citations from the most trust- 
worthy source, namely, Joan’s evidence, given in 1431, before Cauchon, 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


lOI 


815] 

Bishop of Beauvais, and the other ecclesiastics who ultimately condemned 
her to be burnt alive.^ The condemnation was based on her own admis- 
sions ; and the Latin proces-verhal still exists, and was published from the 
MS. by M. Quicherat, 1841-9, for the French Historical Society. Joan, 
like Socrates, was condemned mainly on the ground, or at least on the 
pretext, of her monitory voices : and her Apology remarkably resembles 
his, in its resolute insistence on the truth of the very phenomena which 
were being used to destroy her. Her answers are clear and self-consistent, 
and seem to have been little, if at all, distorted by the recorder. Few 
pieces of history so remote as this can be so accurately known. 

On the other hand, the Proces de Rehabilitation, held some twenty 
years after Joanns death, when memories had weakened and legend had 
begun to grow, is of little value as evidence. Joan’s credit must rest 
entirely on that testimony on the strength of which she was condemned to 
death. 

Fortunately for our purpose, her inquisitors asked her many questions 
as to her voices and visions ; and her answers enable us to give a pretty 
full analysis of the phenomena which concern us. 

I. The voices do not begin with the summons to fight for France. 
Joan heard them first at thirteen years of age, — as with Socrates also the 
voice began in childhood. The first command consisted of nothing more 
surprising than that ^^she was to be a good girl, and go often to church.” 
After this the voice — as in the case of Socrates — ^intervened frequently, 
and on trivial occasions. 

II. The voice was accompanied at first by a light, and sometimes 
afterwards by figures of saints, who appeared to speak, and whom Joan 
appears to have both seen and felt as clearly as though they had been 
living persons. But here there is some obscurity ; and Michelet thinks 
that on one occasion the Maid was tricked by the courtiers for political 
ends. For she asserted (apparently without contradiction) that several 
persons, including the Archbishop of Rheims, as well as herself, had seen 
an angel bringing to the King a material crown.^ 

III. The voices came mainly when she was awake, but also some- 
times roused her from sleep ; a phenomenon often observed in our cases 
of “ veridical hallucination,” “ Ipsa dorraiebat, et vox excitabat earn.” 
(Quicherat, i., p. 62.) 

IV. The voice was not always fully intelligible (especially if she was 
half awake) ; — rin this respect again resembling some of our recorded cases, 
both visual and auditory, where, on the view taken in Phantasms of the 
Living, the externalisation has been incomplete. ^'Vox dixit aliqua, sed 
non omnia intellexit.” (Quicherat, i., p, 62.) 

V. The predictions of the voice, so fkr as stated, were mainly fulfilled ; 

1 For other authorities see Mr. Andrew Lang’s paper in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. 
xi. pp. 198 - 212 , from which I quote in 816 A. 

2 On this point, see Mr. Lang in 816 A. 



102 


CHAPTER VIII 


[815 

viz., that the siege of Orleans would be raised ; that Charles VII. would 
be crowned at Rheims ; that she herself would be wounded ; but the pre- 
diction that there would be a great victory over the English within seven 
years was not fulfilled in any exact way, although the English continued to 
lose ground. In short, about so much was fulfilled as an ardent self- 
devoted mind might have anticipated; much indeed that might have 
seemed irrational to ordinary observers, but nothing which actually needed 
a definite prophetic power. Here, again, we are reminded of the general 
character of the monitions of Socrates. And yet in Joan’s case, more 
probably than in the case of Socrates, there may have been one singular 
exception to this general rule. She knew by monition that there was a 
sword ‘'retro altare” — somewhere behind the altar — in the Church of 
St. Catherine of Fierbois. “ Scivit ipsum ibi esse per voces ” : — she sent 
for it, nothing doubting, and it was found and given to her. This was 
an unique incident in her career. Her judges asked whether she had not 
once found a cup, and a missing priest, by help of similar monitions, but 
this she denied ; and it is remarkable that no serious attempt was made 
either to show that she had claimed this clairvoyant power habitually, or, 
on the other hand, to invalidate the one instance of it which she did in 
effect claim. It would be absurd to cite the alleged discovery of the 
sword as in itself affording a proof of clairvoyance, any more than Socrates’ 
alleged intimation of the approaching herd of swine. But when we are con- 
sidering monitions given in more recent times it will be well to remember 
that it is in this direction that some supernormal extension of knowledge 
seems possibly traceable. 

And, lastly, it must be observed that among all the messages thus 
given to Joan of Arc, there does not seem to have been one which fell 
short of the purest heroism. They were such commands as were best 
suited to draw forth from her who heard them the extreme of force, intel- 
ligence, virtue, of which she had the potency at her birth. What better 
can we desire as the guide of life ? 

We need not assume that the voices which she heard were the offspring 
of any mind but her own, any more than we need assume that the figures 
in which her brave and pious impulses sometimes took external form were 
veritable saints, — ^the crowned St. Margaret and the crowned St. Catherine 
and Michael in the armoury of Heaven. 

Yet, on the other hand, we have no right to class Joan’s monitions, 
any more than those of Socrates, as an incipient madness. To be sane, 
after all, is to be adjusted to our environment, to be capable of coping 
with the facts around us. Tried by this test, it is Socrates and Joan who 
should be our types of sanity ; their difference from ourselves lying rather 
in the fact that they were better able to employ their own whole being, 
and received a clearer inspiration from the monitory soul within. 

I have dwelt at some length on these two cases, far more remote in 
date than those to which it is our custom to appeal. But this has been 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


103 


817] 

because I held it essential to make my reader understand that the grotesque 
and trivial messages or monitions, with which in this inquiry we habitually 
deal, are not to be taken as covering the whole field of automatic action, 
Before we proceed to consider the question as to the action of minds 
external to the automatist's own, we ought at any rate to recognise that 
words given in these strange ways may in themselves be worth hearing, — 
that not the mechanism only but the content of automatic messages may 
sometimes deserve our close and serious attention. 

816. The cases of Socrates and of Joan of Arc, on which I have just 
dwelt, might (as I have said) with almost equal fitness have been introduced 
at certain other points of my discussion. At first sight, at any rate, they 
appear rather like sensory than like motor automatisms, — like hallucina- 
tions of hearing rather than like the motor impulses which we are now 
about to study. Each case, however, approaches motor automatism in a 
special way. 

In the case of Socrates the sign ’’ seems to have been not so much 
a definite voice as a sense of inhibition. In the case of Joan of Arc the 
voices were definite enough, but they were accompanied — as such voices 
sometimes are, but sometimes are not — ^with an overmastering impulse to 
act in obedience to them. These are, I may say, palmary cases of in- 
hibition and of impulse : and inhibition and impulse are at the very root 
of motor phenomena. 

If to this quality we add their historical priority and their intrinsic 
dignity, ennobling in advance the series of petty incidents of similar type 
with which we must soon deal, I think that sufficient reason may have 
been given for the position assigned to them. Furthermore, and partly 
by reason of that very dignity, they show at once the furthest extent of 
the claim that can be made for the agency of the subliminal self, apart 
from any external influence, — apart from telepathy from the living, or 
possession by the departed. 

Each of those other hypotheses will claim its own group of cases ; but 
we must not invoke them until the resources of subliminal wisdom are 
manifestly overtaxed. 

817. These two famous cases, then, have launched us on our sub- 
ject in the stress of a twofold difficulty in logical arrangement. We 
cannot always answer these primary questions. Is the subliminal impulse 
sensory or motor? is it originated in the automatisms own mind, or in 
some mind external to him? 

In the first place, we must reflect that, if the subliminal self really pos- 
sesses that profound power over the organism with which I have credited 
it, we may expect that its messages ” will sometimes express themselves 
in the form of deep organic modifications — of changes in the vaso-motor, 
the circulatory, the respiratory systems. Such phenomena are likely to be 
less noted or remembered as coincidental^ from their very indefiniteness, 
as compared, for instance, with a phantasmal appearance ; but we have 



104 CHAPTER VIII [818 

records of various telepathic cases of deep coenesthetic disturbance, of a 
profound malaise which must, one would think, have involved some unusual 
condition of the viscera. In Gurney’s collection of ‘‘ emotional and motor 
eifects” (Phanlasms of the Livings vol. i. chap, vii.), we find such phrases 
as a cloud of calamity which was almost a physical feeling,” deep de- 
pression,” “ a dreadful feeling of illness and faintness, and I felt that I was 
dying,” dreadful trembling with prostration,” '' trembling, with no apparent 
cause whatever,” '^conviction that I should die that night,” and so forth. 
And we have, moreover, the definite vaso-motor phenomenon of sudden 
weeping, which in one case {op. cit, p. 275 ) is described as "hysterics ” 
by a lady who " never experienced a similar feeling.” This attack cor- 
responded exactly with the sudden death of a father at a distance. We 
must hardly press her phrase as implying more than a sudden, uncon- 
trollable unmotived fit of weeping, though it would, of course, be specially 
interesting if we could find definite hysterical symptoms originated by a 
telepathic shock. Another informant (p. 277 ) speaks of an " extraordi- 
nary state of depression and restlessness ; . . . a violent fit of weeping, a 
thing absolutely alien to my character,” as coinciding with the sudden 
illness and delirium of a distant husband. 

In other cases, too, where the telepathic impression has ultimately 
assumed a definite sensory form, as in the narratives included in Chapters 
VI. and VIL, some organic or emotional phenomena have been noted, 
being perhaps the first effects of the telepathic impact, whether from the 
living or from the dead. In the case of Dr. N., for instance, which I give 
in 817 A, we have first an emotion, then a sense of locality, and lastly, 
an identification with a particular person. 

I follow this case with Appendices 817 B and C containing two cases 
(Mrs. Hadselle’s) where the motor effect produced was the important part 
of the experience, but which show in intimate connection general 7nalaise, 
motor impulse, and auditory hallucination. And I add, in 817 D, an 
experience of Lady de Vesci^s, who described to me in conversation a 
similar malaise, defining itself into the urgent need of definite action — 
namely, the despatch of a telegram to a friend who was in fact then dying 
at the other side of the world. Such an impulse had one only parallel in 
her experience, which also was telepathic in a similar way. 

Similar sensory disturbances are sometimes reported in connection 
with an important form of motor automatism, — that of "dowsing” or 
discovering water by means of the movement of a rod held in the hands 
of the automatist, — ^already treated of in vol. i., 641 A and B. 

818. A small group of cases may naturally be mentioned here. 
From two different points of view they stand for the most part at the 
entrance of our subject, I speak of motor inhibitions, prompted at first 
by subliminal memory, or by subliminal hypersesthesia, but merging into 
telsesthesia or telepathy. Inhibitions — sudden arrests or incapacities of 
action — (more or less of the Socratic type) — form a simple, almost rudi- 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


819] 


105 


raentary, type of motor automatisms. And an inhibition — a sudden 
check on action of this kind — will be a natural way in which a strong but 
obscure impression will work itself out. Such an impression, for instance,, 
is that of alarm^ suggested by some vague sound or odour which is only 
subliminally perceived. And thus in this series of motor automatisms, 
just as in our series of dreams, or in our series of sensory automatisms, we 
shall find ourselves beginning with cases where the subliminal self merely 
shows some slight extension of memory or of sensory perception, — and 
shall thence pass insensibly to cases where no cryptomnesia ” will explain 
the facts known in the past, and no hyperaesthesia will explain the facts 
discerned in the present. 

I will begin with a form of inhibition parallel in its triviality to the pin- 
finding or muscle-reading experiments already mentioned. We may most 
of us have observed that if we perform any small action to which there are 
objections, which we have once known but which have altogether passed 
from our minds, we are apt to perform it in a hesitating, inefficient way. 
The observer whose account I subjoin in 818 A — a lady specially 
susceptible to subliminal impressions, and specially prompt in self- 
analysis (Mrs. Verrall) — has observed that the existence of a forgotten 
memory (so to term it) may actually neutralise purposive muscular 
adjustments. 

Parallel to this trivial case of inability to grasp an unneeded envelope 
is a case of sudden check from throwing into the fire a bundle of bank- 
notes mistaken for useless papers (818 B). 

819. Trivial, again, yet so promptly observed that its very triviality 
has significance, is the following experience of sudden inhibition mixed 
with corresponding impulse — the walk unconsciously arrested, the eyes 
bent on the ground for a reason not at first comprehended by the supra- 
liminal self. (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 415.) 


Leckhampton House, Cambridge, 
September lipk, 1895 . 

Yesterday morning (September 13th, 1895), just after breakfast, I was 
strolling alone along one of the garden paths of Leckhampton House, repeating 
aloud to myself the verses of a poem. I became temporarily oblivious to my 
garden surroundings, and regained my consciousness of them suddenly to find 
myself brought to a stand, in a stooping position, gazing intently at a five- 
leaved clover. On careful examination I found about a dozen specimens of 
five-leaved clover as well as several specimens of four-leaved clover, all of 
which probably came from the same root. Several years ago I was interested 
in getting extra-leaved clovers, but I have not for years made any active search 
for them, though occasionally my conscious attention, as I walked along, has 
been given to appearances of four-leaved clover which proved on examination 
to be deceptive. The peculiarity of yesterday’s “ find ” was that I discovered 
myself, with a sort of shock, standing still and stooping down, and afterwards 
realised that a five-leaved clover was directly under my eyes. I plucked some 
of the specimens, and showed them at once to Mr. and Mrs. Myers, and 



CHAPTER VIII 


io6 


[820 


explained how I had happened to find them. Clover plants were thickly- 
clustered in the neighbourhood, but I failed on looking to find any other speci- 
mens. The incident naturally suggests the arresting of my subliminal attention. 

R. Hodgson. 


Compare with this Dr. Guebhard’s case (see 819 A) of sudden per- 
ception of a bifid fern, where the careless sweep of the eye seems to have 
been arrested by a similar subliminal call, 

820, Similarly there are cases where some sudden muscular impulse 
or inhibition has probably depended on a subliminal perception or inter- 
pretation of a sound which had not reached the supraliminal attention. For 
instance, two friends walking together along a street in a storm just evade 
by sudden movements a falling mass of masonry. Each thinks that he 
has received some monition of the fall ; each asserting that he heard no 
noise whatever to warn him. Here is an instance where subliminal per- 
ception may have been slightly quicker and more delicate than supra- 
liminal ; and may have warned them just in time. 

In the next case’- (quoted from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi, p. 416 ) 
there may have been some subliminal hyperaesthesia of hearing which dimly 
warned Mr. Wyman of the approach of the extra train. 

Mr. Wm. H. Wyman writes to the Editor of the Arena as follows : — 


Dunkirk, N.Y., June 2^th, 1891. 

Some years ago my brother was employed and had charge as conductor 
and engineer of a working train on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern 
Railway, running between Buffalo and Erie, which passes through this city 
(Dunkirk, N.Y.). I often went with him to the Grave Bank, where he had his 
headquarters, and returned on his train with him. On one occasion I was with 
him, and after the train of cars was loaded, we went together to the telegraph 
office to see if there were any orders, and to find out if the trains were on time, 
as he had to keep out of the way of all regular trains. After looking over the 
train reports and finding them all on time, we started for Buffalo. As we 
approached near Westfield Station, running about 12 miles per hour, and when 
within about one mile of a long curve in the line, my brother all of a sudden 
shut ofE the steam, and quickly stepping over to the fireman’s side of the engine, 
he looked out of the cab window, and then to the rear of his train to see if 
there was anything the matter with either. Not discovering anything wrong, 
he stopped and put on steam, but almost immediately again shut it off and gave 
the signal for breaks and stopped. After inspecting the engine and train 
and finding nothing wrong, he seemed very much excited, and for a short 
time he acted as if he did not know where he was or what to do. I asked 
what was the matter. He replied that he did not know, when, after looking at 
his watch and orders, he said that he felt that there was some trouble on the 
line of the road. I suggested that he had better run his train to the station 
and find opt. He then ordered his flagman with his flag to go ahead around 
the curve, which was just ahead of us, and he would follow with the train. The 

1 For a somewhat similar case, possibly due to hypersesthesia of hearing, see 
American Journal of Psychology, vol. iii. p. 435 (September 1890). 



821] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 107 

flagman started and had just time to flag an extra express train, with the 
General Superintendent and others on board, coming full forty miles per 
hour. The Superintendent inquired what he was doing there, and if he did 
not receive orders to keep out of the way of the extra. My brother told him 
that he had not received orders and did not know of any extra train coming ; 
that we had both examined the train reports before leaving the station. The 
train then backed to the station, where it was found that no orders had been 
given. The train despatcher was at once discharged from the road, and from 
that time to this both my brother and myself are unable to account for his 
stopping the train as he did. I consider it quite a mystery, and cannot give or 
find any intelligent reason for it. Can you suggest any ? 

The above is true and correct in every particular. 

In subsequent letters to Dr. Hodgson Mr. Wyman writes ; — 

My brother died some three years ago. 

The incident occurred about the year 1873. 

I was not connected with the road or train at the time ; I was employed on 
the New York, Lake Erie, and Western R. R., at Dunkirk. The flagman is 
now, or was a short time ago, living in Denver, Colorado; his statement can 
be obtained if desirable. 

The Superintendent died in Germany about two years ago. 

In a subsequent letter Mr. Wyman adds : I traced Mr. James Con- 
way [the flagman] to Colorado, and learned from his son that he died 
March 16, 1888, [Letter sent herewith.]’* 

Mrs, Wyman, widow of the percipient, writes : — 

Jersey City y September 16, 1893. 

Mr. Hodgson, — Sir, — I [received your letter asking me for statements 
in regard to Mr. Wyman’s experience. I don’t think I could tell any of the 
circumstances. I only recollect hearing him say he was singularly and deeply 
impressed that something was wrong, and he obeyed the impulse and stopped 
the train just in season of time to prevent an accident, and it left a deep im- 
pression on his mind ever after, as he often spoke of it and wondered why and 
what it was. — Yours respectfully, L. A. Wyman. 

821 . Here, again, is an averted railway accident, where smell may 
possibly have played some part. 

(From Proceedings^.'?.'^., vol. xi. p. 419.) The following letter was 
received by Dr. Hodgson in confirmation of an account in a newspaper, 
concordant with Mr. Stewart’s account given later. 

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, 
August 14, 1893, Garrett, Ind. 

Yours of August loth received. Must say, the story as printed in many 
of the newspapers of our country, regarding the train being saved, by a pre- 
monition, or warning, given me, was true as printed. The fireman I then had, 
since became an engineer, and was killed in an accident on a railroad in Iowa 
two years since. The conductor who was with me at the time you refer to is 
running passenger train on the Mackinaw road. I do not know his address, 



io8 CHAPTER VIII [822 

but his father, a minister of the gospel, and his brother. Dr. Charles Stewart, 
are residents of this city. A letter addressed to Mr. Joseph Stewart, care of 
Dr. Charles Stewart, Garrett, Ind., would reach my conductor. 

Yes, sir, I have had an experience of similar nature since the occurrence 
you refer to. Had a warning from the same source, and by obeying it I saved 
what otherwise, without obeying the warning, must have been a most dreadful 
accident, and must have resulted in the entire destruction of my train, with the 
lives of many, if not all the persons on board. I am not a Spiritualist, do not 
believe in so-called Spiritualism, but do believe that the living are often visited, 
often warned of danger, and often comforted in times of affliction, by the spirits 
of departed loved ones. ... C. W. Moses. 

Battle Creek, Mich., August 28, 1893, 

Richard Hodgson, Esq., — Dear Sir, — Your request received, and will, 
as far as memory serves, give a correct statement as to the incident referred to. 

Train No. 2 of the B. and O. R. R., due in Chicago at 6.20 a.m., Sunday, 
in the month of August 1883 (have forgotten exact date), was on time, running 
at about thirty-five miles an hour. On approaching Salt Creek Trestle Work, 
about forty miles east of Chicago, the engineer, Mr. C. W. Moses, felt that 
something that he could not define compelled him to stop before attempting 
to cross over. He applied the air and came to a full stop at the approach. I 
occupied front seat in smoker, it being the second car from engine. The time 
was about 4.30 a.m. I immediately went forward and joined the engineer 
where we found thirty feet of the woodwork burned, the rails being held to 
place by charred stringers. We went across, by climbing down and up the 
bank on the other side, and woke up the watchman who was employed to 
look after the bridge, who, on seeing us and the condition of things in general, 
took to his heels and is running still, as far as I know. I would say that in 
more than a score of years engaged in railroad work, that was the most 
narrow escape I ever experienced ; for undoubtedly, with a fall of thirty feet 
and the length of over a hundred, we would not only have been disabled, but 
burned. 

Now you especially ask as to what impelled Mr. Moses in his action. 
He only stated to me at the time that something especially pressing on him 
told him he should stop, and he acted on the impulse. There had been fires 
all along the side of track at other points, but he paid no attention to 
them. 

In conclusion, I see some newspaper man got hold of the incident as late 
as last June, and attempted to make Mr. Moses say that the spirit of a sainted 
mother took hold of him. Well, Mr. Moses is an upright and truthful, old, 
reliable engineer, and owing to his great advance in years at this late date 
may have intimated as much, but nothing was said about the old lady at the 
time ; that I vouch for. . , . 

I. J. Stewart, Conductor C. J. and M. R. R. 

[Formerly of the B. and 0 . R. R.] 

In another case again (given in 821 A) some subliminal sense of 
smell may be conjectured. 

822. In the next case (it comes from a good observer) some warning 
may have been received from the closer smell of slimy water; — or perhaps 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


822 ] 


109 


from a vague diiference in the look of the darkness, or even in the resist- 
ance of the air. (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi, p. 422.) 


5144 Madison Avenue, Hyde Park, Chicago, 
October 30/^6, 1892. 

Dr. Hodgson, — Dear Sir, — I send you an account of an incident in 
which, I think, my life was saved by my obedience to an impulse arising from 
nothing within my conscious knowledge or perception. 

Some years ago, I landed in Stillwater, Minn., from a steamboat on which 
I had come down the St. Croix River. The boat was a small, local affair, and no 
conveyances came to meet it. I was, I believe, the only passenger on board 
when we reached Stillwater, and there I was left to make my way alone to the 
hotel. We landed at about 9 p.m. of a starless night, and in the shadow of a 
warehouse which cut off the lights of the town ; the hour, the clouded sky, and 
the shadow of the warehouse, uniting to make the dock extremely dark. 

I had been in Stillwater once before, and had a general idea of the topo- 
graphy of the town, although some years had passed since my previous visit, 
and I am quite certain that I had never passed over this particular locality. 

As I left the boat I saw the lights of the bridge at some distance on my 
left, and knowing the bridge to be at the foot of the principal street, on which 
stood the hotel where I intended to put up, I naturally commenced to walk along 
the dock in that direction. I had gone but a very short distance, when I sud- 
denly felt so strong an impulse to turn and go the other way that I instantly 
obeyed. I saw nothing, heard nothing; I did not even have an impression of 
danger, though I did have a feeling that it must be in someway better to turn. 

I distinctly remember that my reason protested, and berated me for a fool 
in taking a roundabout way to my destination when the straight way lay before 
me, with the added prospect of losing myself in the railway yards, with perhaps 
a ten-feet fence to climb. I laughed aloud, and articulated, or at least, mentally 
formed the words, “ You fool 1 What are you doing this for?” However, my 
impulse proved stronger than my reason. I persisted in “ going round Robin 
Hood's barn,” reached my hotel, and there the matter passed from my mind. 

The next day I casuily came to the same place, and discovered that I had 
turned within a few feet of a spot where the dock was cut away into an incline 
for hauling freight up into the warehouse. This incline was so steep that a per- 
son could have kept his footing on it only by great care. If I had unexpectedly 
stepped down on to it in the darkness, I should certainly have lost my footing, 
and should have slipped into the river ; and as I am but a feeble swimmer under 
the most favourable circumstances, and was encumbered with a fall overcoat 
and a rather heavy satchel, I should just as certainly have been drowned. 

■ The value of the incident lies in the fact, for which you must take my word, 
that I am not an impulsive and changeable person, but rather logical and per- 
sistent. My action was entirely contrary to my nature, and the unavailing pro- 
test of my reason against what appeared to me an inconsequent and absurd 
proceeding convinces me either that I was influenced by some intelligence 
entirely without, or that my “ Subliminal Self ” perceived and acted upon what 
my “ Supraliminal Self” could not see. 

I have never had any other supernormal experiences. 


Marshall Wait. 



no CHAPTER VIII [823 

823 . Tactile sensibility, again, must be carefully allowed for. The 
sense of varying resistance in the air, to which I just now alluded, may 
reach in some seeing persons, as well as in the blind, a high degree of 
acuteness. It is perhaps possible that even the interposition of a chair in 
a narrow passage might thus make itself felt. But Mr. W. (a good witness 
and well known to Dr. Hodgson) has had (as we shall see later on in 
873 ) other experiences where supernormal influences seemed plainly 
indicated. (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 423.) 

State of New York, Decemher 28ib, 1893. 

Dr. Hodgson, —Dear Sir, — In compliance with your request to write 
out an account of my chair experience, which I described to you when here, I 
submit the following : — 

My office consists of three rooms, and the library in the back one is 
reached by passing through the full length of the other two. The middle room 
is rather narrow, and well filled on both sides with furniture, leaving a rather 
narrow passage through the room lengthwise, particularly at a point about the 
middle of the room, where the passage is only three feet wide. This passage 
was very naturally kept free from obstructions, but on the occasion of which I 
am about to speak, some one, probably the janitor when he came in to see to 
the fires soon after the office was closed for the day, had placed a chair in this 
narrow passage, so that any one who should attempt to pass through the room 
would be certain to fall over it, if dark. I think it was about the last days of 
December 1892. I recollect the days were very short. I had left the office for 
the day with the passage free. I visit the office occasionally evenings, but not 
often. On this occasion during the evening, when it was very dark, I visited 
the office alone. I unlocked the outside door, walked through the first room, 
stopping at the door that leads to the second or middle room, to get a match 
from the safe hanging on the door casing with which to light a lamp in the 
library, where I wished to get something. I was in a very great hurry, and 
walked very rapidly; after taking the match from the safe, I started at a veiy 
rapid pace to go through this narrow passage and into the library. It was very 
dark, none of the objects in the room were visible, but as I was very familiar 
with the place, I did not hesitate. I had proceeded six or eight feet in this 
rapid manner, when suddenly I saw a bright, yellow light lighting up very 
plainly the back of the chair which was in the passage. The light was confined 
to the chair, and at the same time I stopped short. The stopping was quite 
involuntary on my part. The light lasted for but a second, but it had showed 
me the chair distinctly, especially the carving on the back of the chair. 

Immediately it occurred to me to discover the origin of the light, if 
possible, so, before proceeding to get a light or to leave the room, I approached 
the chair again in a similar manner, but no light appeared, and I experienced 
no check. I also looked very carefully for the origin of the light, but could 
discover none. There was no light anywhere near, and even had there been, I 
am at a loss to see how it could have shone into the centre of this room, and 
the difficulty is still further increased by the fact that it shone only in one place, 
and even there the light was of a somewhat different colour and appearance 
from ordinary artificial light. 

After satisfying myself that there was no light an3rwhere that could have 
produced it, 1 went into the library and got a lamp and made an examination. 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


III 


824 ] 

The chair was in the passage in the most dangerous part; otherwise the room 
was in its usual condition. I should also state that at one end of this room 
there was a coal stove, with a fire in it of hard coal. It was burning very low, 
and was ashed over. I examined it before I got a lamp, and I am confident 
that no light of any kind proceeded from it. 

As to my sudden stop. The stop and the light were simultaneous. I 
hardly think the light unaided caused me to stop; it undoubtedly prevented 
me from starting after I had stopped. I fully believe I should have sustained 
a heavy fall, but for the light and the stop. W. 

F.S . — When I mention that the colour of the light appeared different, I 
mean that it did not look as a light reflected from or shining from a distance 
on to a spot would — // was more like looking directly at a light 

See also a case given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 345, where a 
lady hurrying up to the door of a lift, is stopped by seeing the figure of a 
man standing in front of it, and then finds that the door is open, leaving 
the well exposed, so that she would probably have fallen down it, if she 
had not been checked by the apparition. 

824 . And now I give a case of sudden motor inhibition where no 
warning can well have been received from hypersesthetic sensation. We 
have come, it seems, to telaesthesia or to spirit guardianship. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi, p. 459.) 

Four years ago, I made arrangements with my nephew, John W. Parsons, 
to go to my office after supper to investigate a case. We walked along to- 
gether, both fully determined to go up into the office, but just as I stepped 
upon the door sill of the drug store, in which my office was situated, some 
invisible influence stopped me instantly. I was much surprised, felt like I was 
almost dazed, the influence was so strong, almost like a blow, I felt like I could 
not make another step. I said to my nephew, “John, I do not feel like going 
into the office now; you go and read Flint and Aitken on the subject.” He 
went, lighted the lamp, took off his hat, and just as he was reaching for a book 
the report of a large pistol was heard. The ball entered the window near 
where he was standing, passed near to and over his head, struck the wall and 
fell to the floor. Had I been standing where he was, I would have been killed, 
as I am much taller than he. The pistol was fired by a man who had an old 
grudge against me, and had secreted himself in a vacant house near by to 
assassinate me. 

This impression was unlike any that I ever had before. All my former 
impressions were slow in their development, grew stronger and stronger, until 
the maximum was reached. I did not feel that I was in any danger, and could 
not understand what the strong impression meant. The fellow was drunk, had 
been drinking for two weeks. If my system had been in a different condition — 
I had just eaten supper — I think I would have received along with the im- 
pression some knowledge of the character of the danger, and would have pre- 
vented my nephew from going into the office. 

I am fully satisfied that the invisible and unknown intelligence did the 
best that could have been done, under the circumstances, to save us from harm. 

D. J. Parsons, M.D., Sweet Springs, Mo. 

(The above account was received in a letter from Dr. D. J. Parsons, dated 
December i sth^ 1891.) 



II2 


CHAPTER VIII 


[825 


Statement of Dr. J. W. Parsons. 

About four years ago my uncle, Dr. D. J. Parsons, and I were going to 
supper, when a man halted us and expressed a desire for medical advice. My 
uncle requested him to call the next morning, and as we walked along he said 
the case was a bad one and that we would come back after supper and go to 
the office and examine the authorities on the subject. After supper we returned, 
walked along together on our way to the office, but just as we reached the door 
of the drug store he very unexpectedly, to me, stopped suddenly, which caused 
me to stop too ; we stood there together a few seconds, and he remarked to me 
that he did not feel like going into the office then, or words to that effect, and 
told me to go and examine Flint and Aitken. I went, lit the lamp, and just as 
I was getting a book, a pistol was fired into the office, the ball passing close to 
my head, struck the east wall, then the north, and fell to the floor. 

This 5th day of July, 1891. 

John W. Parsons [Ladonia, Texas]. 

825 . In the next group of cases which I shall cite, we reach a class 
of massive motor impulses which are almost entirely free from any sensory 
admixture. 

In the first of these, Mr. Garrison left a religious meeting in the 
evening, and walked eighteen miles under the strong impulse to see his 
mother, and found her dead. The account is taken from the Journal 
S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 125. 

Mr. Garrison writes : — 

Gardner & Garrison, Dealers in Fancy and Family Groceries. 

Ozark, 29//^, 1896. 

Mr. Richard Hodgson, — Dear Sir, — Answering your letter of July 
15th in regard to my experience connected with the death of my mother, I will 
make the following statement. My mother, Nancy J. Garrison, died on Friday 
night, October 4th, 1888, at her home three miles north-east of Ozark, Chris- 
tian County, Missouri. She was fifty-eight years old. I was then living at 
Fordland, in Webster County, Missouri, about eighteen miles north-east of my 
mother’s home. I had not seen my mother for two months at the time of her 
death, but had heard from [her] by letter from week to week. 

On the night of my mother’s death there was a meeting in Fordland, and 
myself and wife attended the preaching. We had then one child, a baby a 
year old. The meetings had been going on a week or more. About ten 
o’clock, just before the meeting closed, while the congregation was singing, 
I felt the first desire to see my mother. The thought of my mother was 
suggested by the sight of some of the penitents at the altar, who were very 
warm and sweating. My mother was subject to smothering spells, and while 
suffering from these attacks she would perspire freely and we had to fan her. 
In the faces of the mourners I seemed to see my mother’s suffering. And then 
the impulse to go to her became so strong that I gave the baby to a neighbour- 
woman and left the church without telling my wife. She was in another part 
of the house. 

The train going west which would have taken me [to] RogersviUe, seven 
miles of the distance to my mother’s place, was due at 10.30 R.M., but before 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


825 ] 


113 


I got home and changed my clothes and returned to the depot, the cars had 
left the station. I still felt that I must see my mother, and started down the 
railroad track alone, and walked to Rogersville. Here I left the railroad and 
walked down the waggon way leading from Marshfield to Ozark, Mo. It was 
about three o’clock a.m. when I reached my mother’s house. I knocked at the 
door two or three times and got no response. Then I kicked the door, but 
still made no one hear me. At last I opened the door with my knife and 
walked in and lighted a lamp. Then my sister, Mrs. Billie Gilley, the only 
person who had been living with my mother, awoke, and I asked her where 
mother was. She replied that she was in bed, and I said, “ She is dead,” for by 
that time I felt that she could not h% alive. She had never failed to wake before 
when I had entered the room at night. 

I went to my mother’s bed and put my hand on her forehead. It was cold. 
She had been dead about three hours, the neighbours thought, from the con- 
dition of her body. She had gone to bed about ten o’clock at night, feeling better 
than usual. She and my sister had talked awhile after going to bed. They 
were aiming to come to Ozark the next morning, and intended to get up early. 

The above facts cover my experience as fully as I can tell the story. I 
have no explanation for the matter. It is as much a mystery to me now as 
ever. I could not believe such a strange affair if told by any one else, and yet 
I could swear to every fact stated. . . . Thomas B. Garrison. 


Ozark, Mo., Augi^st lytk^ 1896, 

Mr. Richard Hodgson, — Dear Sir, — I send you a statement made by 
my wife about the death of my mother. . . . 

I have not yet been able to get my sister’s statement. She lives a few miles 
out of town. I will get her to teU about the death of mother and my coming 
home that night when I see her. 

After finding that mother was dead I went to three neighbour families right 
away and had the women come and stay with us tiU morning. Mrs. Green, 
Mrs. Walker, and Mrs. Gardner were the women who first heard of mother’s 
death from me. They still live in that neighbourhood, and would confirm my 
story so far as it relates to my coming to my mother’s that night and finding 
her dead. 

Would you like a statement from these women ? I shall be glad to give you 
all the facts coimected with the strange occurrence, for it has been to me a 
mystery of the greatest perplexity. ... T. B. Garrison. 

Corroborative statements are as follows : — 


Ozark, Mo., August 12th, 1896. 

Richard Hodgson, — Dear Sir, — We received your letter asking for a 
statement from me in regard to the death of my husband’s mother. 

I remember the occurrence just as my husband has written it. I was very 
much surprised to find him gone from the church, and more so when I got 
home to hear he had started seventeen miles after night without saying a word 
to me, as he never left home even for a few hours without telling me where he 
was going. My mother (Mrs. Butcher) was at the house. When he started he 
left word with her telling me he had gone to see his mother, but I could hardly 
believe it, it being such a strange time to start such a distance. He did not 
say anything about going to any one except my mother. He has always said 
he felt as if he must go. . . . Minnie Garrison. 

VOL. 11. H 



CHAPTER VIII 


1 14 


[825 


Ozark, Mo., September 1896. 

Mr. R. Hodgson,— Hearing that you were trying to tind out the particulars 
about the remarkable circumstance of Mr. Garrison’s experience about the time 
of his mother’s death, I decided to write to you. I was living about 150 yards 
from Mrs. Garrison at the time, and Mr. Garrison came to our house between 
three and four that morning to tell us of his mother’s death, and we learned the 
matter then just as it was printed in the newspaper. . . . 

Mrs. C. C. Green. 


Ozark, Mo., September i 6 tk^ 1S96. 

... I was living with my son-in-law, Thomas B. Garrison, at the time of 
his mother’s death on October 3rd, 1888. 

Garrison and his wife went to church in Fordland, Mo., and I remained at 
home. About ten o’clock that night T. B. Garrison returned home and said 
“ Ma, I have took a notion to go home, in Christian Co., and see mother.” I 
was surprised at his starting at that hour of the night. I asked him where 
Minnie was. He said she was at church, and he told me to tell his wife where 
he was gone when she returned. The above is true. . . . 

Elvira Butcher. 


In another case, that of Major Kobb6 (given in Phantasms of the 
Living^ vol. i. p. 288), the percipient was prompted to visit a distant 
cemetery, without any conscious reason, and there found his father, who 
had, in fact, for certain unexpected reasons, sent to his son, Major Kobb6, 
a request (accidentally not received) to meet him at that place and hour. 

In a third case, Mr. Skirving (see 825 A) was irresistibly compelled to 
leave his work and go home — why, he knew not — at the moment when his 
wife was in fact calling for him in the distress of a serious accident. See 
also a case given in Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p* 377, where a brick- 
layer has a sudden impulse to run home, and arrives just in time to save 
the life of his little boy, who had set himself on fire. 

This special sensibility to the motor element in an impulse recalls to us 
the special susceptibilities to different forms of hallucination or suggestion 
shown by different hypnotic subjects. Some can be made to see, some to 
hear, some to act out the conception proposed to them. Dr. B^rillon ^ has 
even shown that certain subjects who seem at first quite refractory to 
hypnotisation are nevertheless at once obedient, even in the waking state, 
to a motor suggestion. This was the case both with a very strong man, 
with weak men and women, and with at least one subject actually suffering 
from locomotor ataxy. Thus the loss of supraliminal motor control over 
certain muscular combinations may actually lead to- motor su^estibility 
as regards those combinations ; just as the loss of supraliminal sensation 
in some ansesthetic patch may lead to a special subliminal sensitiveness in 
the very directions where the superficial sensibility has sunk away. On 
the other hand, a specially well-developed motor control may predispose 
in a similar way; — as for instance, the subject who can sing already is 

1 Revue de V HypnoHsme, March 1893, p. 268. 



825] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 115 

more easily made to sing by suggestion. We must, then, await further 
observations before we can pretend to say beforehand with which auto- 
matist the messages will take a sensory, and with which a motor form. 

Still less can we explain the special predisposition of each experimenter 
to one or more of the common kinds of motor automatism — as automatic 
speech, automatic writing, table movements, raps, and so forth. These 
forms of messages may themselves be variously combined ; and the con- 
tents of a message of any one of these kinds may be purely dream-like and 
fantastic, or may be veridical in various ways. 

Let us enumerate the modes of subliminal motor message as nearly as 
we can in order of their increasing specialisation. 

1. We may place first the massive motor impulses (like Mr. Garrison’s) 
which mark a kind of transition between coenesthetic affections and 
motor impulses proper. There was here no impulse to special movement 
of any limb ; but an impulse to reach a certain place by ordinary methods. 

2. Next, perhaps, in order of specialisation come the simple subliminal 
muscular impulses which give rise to table-tilting and similar phenomena. 

3. Musical execution, subliminally initiated, might theoretically be 
placed next ; although definite evidence of this is hard to obtain, since 
the threshold of consciousness with musical performers is notoriously apt 
to be shifting and indefinite. When in doubt, play with your fingers, 
and not with your head.”) 

4. Next we may place automatic drawing and painting. This curious 
group of messages has but seldom a telepathic content, and, as was sug- 
gested in Chapter III, ( 324 ), is more akin to genius and similar non- 
telepathic forms of subliminal faculty.^ 

5. Next comes automatic writing, on which much remains to be said 
in this chapter. 

6. Automatic speech, which would not seem to be per se a more de- 
veloped form of motor message than automatic script, is often accom- 
panied by profound changes of memory or of personality which raise the 
question of ‘‘inspiration” or “possession ” ; — for the two words, however 
different their theological import, mean much the same thing from the 
standpoint of experimental psychology. 

7. I must conclude my list with a class of motor phenomena which I 
shall here merely record in passing, without attempting any explanation. 
I allude to raps, and to those telekinetic movements of objects whose real 
existence is still matter of controversy. 

Comparing this list of motor automatisms with the sensory automatisms 
enumerated in Chapter VI., we shall find a certain general tendency running 

1 When the automatic drawings have any telepathic or other supernormal content, 
they are usually associated with automatic writing. Compare the case of Mr. Cameron 
Grant, 786 B, and two cases in the experience of Mr. Stainton Moses, that connected 
with “ Blanche Abercromby ” (see 949), and the case of the man crushed by a steam- 
roller (see 948 A). 



ii6 


CHAPTER VIII 


[826 

through each alike. The sensory automatisms began with vague un- 
specialised sensations. They then passed through a phase of definition, 
of specialisation on the lines of the known senses. And finally they 
reached a stage beyond these habitual forms of specialisation : beyond 
them, as of wider reach, and including in an apparently unanalysable act 
of perception a completer truth than any of our specialised forms of per- 
ception could by itself convey. With motor messages, too, we begin with 
something of similar vagueness. They, too, develop from modifications of 
the percipient’s general organic condition, or coenesthesia ; and the first 
dim telepathic impulse apparently hesitates between several channels of 
expression. They then pass through various definitely specialised forms ; 
and finally, as we shall see when automatic script is considered, they, too, 
merge into an unanalysable act of cognition in which the motor element of 
the message has disappeared. 

But these motor messages point also in two other even more perplex- 
ing directions. They lead, as I have said above, towards the old idea of 
possession / — musing the word no longer in an unfavourable sense, but simply 
as an expression for some form of temporary manifestation of some veritably 
distinct and alien personality through the physical organism of some living 
man or woman. And they appear to lead also to another class of 
phenomena in which (just as in ^‘possession”) the influence at work, 
instead of becoming more and more identified with the automatist’s con- 
scious thought, appears to become more and more markedly distinguished 
from it. 1 allude to telekinesis, or hyperboulia, or whatever name we may 
decide to give to effects apparently exercised in the automatist’s presence, 
but not through his normal agency, upon the physical world. 

These two last-named topics, so-called “possession,” and so-called 
“ telekinetic phenomena,” although unavoidably mentioned here, must be 
reserved for fuller description in my next chapter. It will be enough 
for the present to consider motor messages as running parallel to sensory 
messages j — as covering much the same ground, and presenting the old 
problems as to their source and initiation in an instructively different light, 

826. The subject of automatic writing, to which our argument next 
leads us, is a creation of the last few decades, and is at present in so 
rapidly developing a condition that it is not easy to know at what stage of 
proof or explanation it is here best to begin. In calling the subject novel 
I do not indeed mean to deny that this and similar practices are traceable 
iii many lands and in remote antiquity. But among civilised men, in 
Europe and America, the phenomenon came first into notice as an 
element in so-called “ modem spiritualism,” about the middle of the 
nineteenth century. It then remained for another generation a kind of 
plaything or drawing-room amusement ; — planchette being called upon for 
answers to such questions as “What young lady am I thinking of?” 
“What horse is going to win the Derby?” 

It was in the United States that these sporadic messages were first 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


117 


826 ] 

developed and systematised. Through the unlettered mind of Andrew Jack- 
son Davis a kind of system of philosophy was given. Through Judge 
Edmonds many messages of serious import were given, although, as recorded, 
they contain little evidence to the agency of an external intelligence. 
The Healing of the Nations was another work of the same general type. 
But the automatic writings of W. Stainton Moses — about 1870-80 — were 
perhaps the first continuous series of messages given in England which 
lifted the subject into a higher plane.^ 

These writings marked a new departure of most serious moment. Mr. 
Moses — a man whose statements could not be lightly set aside — claimed 
for them that they were the direct utterances of departed persons, some 
of them lately dead, some dead long ago. Such a claim seemed at first 
too prodigious for belief j and — as will be seen later — it is in fact still 
under discussion. But Mr, Moses’ writings — however to be explained — 
strongly impressed Edmund Gurney and myself, and added to our desire 
to work at the subject in as many ways as we could. 

It was plain that these writings — which might be of almost immeasur- 
able importance — could not be judged aright without a wide analysis of 
similar scripts, — without an experimental inquiry into what the human mind, 
in states of somnambulism or the like, could furnish of written messages, 
apart from the main stream of consciousness. By his experiments, men- 
tioned in a former chapter, on writing obtained in different stages of 
hypnotic trance, Gurney acted as the pioneer of a long series of researches 
which, independently set on foot by Professor Pierre Janet in France, 
have become of high psychological, and even medical, importance. What 
is here of prime interest is the indubitable fact that fresh personalities can 
be artificially and temporarily created, which will write down matter quite 
alien from the first personality’s character, and even matter which the 
first personality never knew. That matter may consist merely of reminis- 
cences of previous periods when the second personality has been ii5» 
control. But, nevertheless, if these writings are shown to the primary 
personality, he will absolutely repudiate their authorship — alleging not 
only that he has no recollection of writing them, but also that they 
contain allusions to facts which he never knew. Some of these mes- 
sages, indeed, although their source is so perfectly well defined — although 
we know the very moment when the secondary personality which wrote 
them was called into existence — do certainly look more alien from the 
automatist in his normal state than many of the messages which claim 
to come from spirits of lofty type. It is noticeable, moreover, that these 
manufactured personalities sometimes cling obstinately to their fictitious 
names, and refuse to admit that they are in reality only aspects or portions 

1 The automatic messages collected by “ Allan Kardec” in the Livre des Esprits 
and the Livre des Midiums, although in themselves interesting, were not evidential. 
They seem to have been arbitrarily selected from writings which supplied no proof of 
supernormal origin. 



ii8 CHAPTER VIII . [827 

of the automatist himself. This must be remembered when the persistent 
claim to some spiritual identity — say Napoleon — is urged as an argument 
for attributing a series of messages to that special source. There is much 
else which may be learnt from these self-suggested automatisms ; and the 
discussions in my earlier chapters refer to several points which should be 
familiar to all who would seriously analyse the more advanced, more 
difficult, motor phenomena. 

827. And here it must be strongly asserted that, however important 
it may be to work to the full that preliminary inquiry, it is still more im- 
portant to collect the richest possible harvest of those more advanced 
cases. To such collection Mr. Moses’ writings acted as a powerful stimu- 
lant \ and ever since my first sight of his MSS. I have made it a principal 
object to get hold of automatic script from trustworthy sources. 

During those twenty-seven years I have personally observed at least 
fifty cases where there was every reason to suppose that the writing was 
genuinely automatic; albeit in most of the cases it was uninteresting and 
non- evidential. 

This number is, at any rate, sufficient to enable me to generalise as to 
the effects of this practice on healthy persons rather less inadequately than 
writers who generalise from mere hearsay, or from observation of hospital 
patients. 

In two cases I think that the habit of automatic writing (carried on in 
spite of my warning, by persons over whom I had no influence), may have 
done some little harm, owing to the obstinate belief of the writers that the 
obvious trash which they wrote was necessarily true and authoritative. In 
the remaining cases no apparent harm was done ; nor, so far as I know, 
was there any ill-health or disturbance in connection with the practice. 
Several of the writers were persons both physically and mentally above the 
average level. 

My own conclusion is that when the writing is presumptuous or 
nonsensical, or evades test questions, it should be stopped ; since in that 
case it is presumably the mere externalisation of a kind of dream-state of 
the automatist’s ; but that when the writing is coherent and straight- 
forward, and especially when some facts unknown to the writer are given 
as tests of good faith, the practice of automatic writing is harmless, and 
may lead at any moment to important truth. The persons, in short, who 
should avoid this experiment are the self-centred and conceited. It is 
dangerous only to those who are secretly ready — and many are secretly 
ready — to regard themselves as superior to the rest of mankind. 

828. What has now been said may suffice as regards -the varieties of 
mechanism — the different forms of motor automatism — which the messages 
employ, I shall pass on to consider the contents of the messages, and 
shall endeavour to classify them according to their apparent sources. 

A. In the first place, the message may come from the percipient’s own 
mind ; its contents being supplittd from the resources of his ordinary 



828] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 119 

memory, 6r of his more extensive subliminal memory ; while the drama- 
tisation of the message — its assumption of some other mind as its 
source — will resemble the dramatisations of dream or of hypnotic trance. 

Of course the absence of facts unknown to the writer is not in itself 
a proof that the message does not come from some other mind. We 
cannot be sure that other minds, if they can communicate, will always be 
at the pains to fill their messages with evidential facts. But, equally of 
course, a message devoid of such facts must not, on the strength of its 
mere assertions, be claimed as the product of any but the writer's own 
mind. 

B. Next above the motor messages whose content the autoraatist's own 
mental resources might supply, we may place the messages whose content 
seems to be derived telepathically from the mind of some other person 
still living on earth ; that person being either conscious or unconscious of 
transmitting the suggestion. 

C. Next comes the possibility that the message may emanate from 
some unembodied intelligence of unknown type — other, at any rate, than 
the intelligence of the alleged agent. Under this heading come the views 
which ascribe the messages on the one hand to elementaries," or even 
devils, and on the other hand to guides " or guardians " of superhuman 
goodness and wisdom. 

D. Finally we have the possibility that the message may be derived, 
in a more or less direct manner, from the mind of the agent — the 
departed friend — from whom the communication does actually claim 
to come. 

My main effort has naturally been thus far directed to the proof that 
there are messages which do not fall into the lowest class, A — in which 
class most psychologists would still place them all. And I myself — 
while reserving a certain small portion of the messages for my other 
classes — do not only admit but assert that the great majority of such 
communications represent the subliminal workings of the automatist's 
mind alone. It does not, however, follow that such messages have for us 
no interest or novelty. On the contrary, they form an instructive, an 
indispensable transition from psychological introspection of the old- 
fashioned kind to the bolder methods on whose validity I am anxious to 
insist. The mind’s subliminal action, as thus revealed, differs from the 
supraliminal in ways which no one anticipated, and which no one can 
explain. There seem to be subliminal tendencies setting steadily in 
certain obscure directions*, and bearing as little relation to the individual 
characteristics of the person to the deeps of whose being we have some- 
how penetrated as profound ocean-currents bear to waves and winds on 
the surface of the sea.^ 

1 See Professor James's Psycholo^^, vol. i. p. 394 : "One curious thing about trance 
utterances is their generic similarity in different individuals. ... It seems exactly as if 
one author composed more than half of the trance messages, no matter by whom they are 



120 


CHAPTER VIII 


[829 

Is this indeed the drift of the Zeitgeist — as Professor James suggests — 
steady beneath the tossings and tumblings of individual man ? Or is it 
something independent of age or season ? Is there some pattern in the 
very fabric of our nature which begins to show whenever we scratch the 
glaze off the stuff? 

All this may be better considered hereafter, apart from the evidential 
discussions with which this chapter must be mainly concerned. 

Another point also, of fundamental importance, connected with the 
powers of the subliminal self, will be better deferred until a later chapter. 
I have said that a message containing only facts normally known to the 
automatist must not, on the strength of its mere assertions, be regarded as 
proceeding from any mind but his own. This seems evident ; but the 
converse proposition is not equally indisputable. We must not take for 
granted that a message which does contain facts not normally known to 
the automatist must therefore come from some mind other than his own. 
If the subliminal self can acquire supernormal knowledge at all, it may 
obtain such knowledge by means other than telepathic impressions from 
other minds. It may assimilate its supernormal nutriment also by a 
director process — it may devour it not only cooked but raw. Parallel 
with the possibilities of reception of such knowledge from the influence 
of other embodied or disembodied minds lies the possibility of its own 
clairvoyant perception, or active absorption of some kind, of facts lying 
indefinitely beyond its supraliminal purview. 

829. Now, as I have said, the great majority of the nunciative 
or message-bearing motor automatisms originate in the automatist^s own 
mind, and do not involve the exercise of telepathy or telsesthesia, or any 
other supernormal faculty; but they illustrate in various ways the co- 
existence of the subliminal with the supraliminal self, its wider memory, 
and its independent intelligence. 

I need not here multiply instances of the simpler and commoner 
, forms of this type, and I will merely quote in illustration two short cases 
recounted by Mr. H. Arthur Smith (author of The Principles of Equity^ 
and a member of the Council of the Society for Psychical Research) 
who has had the patience to analyse many communications through 
Planchette.’^ 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., voL ii. p. 233.) Mr. Smith and his nephew 
placed their hands on the Planchette, and a purely fantastic name was 
given as that of the communicating agency. 

uttered. Whether all sub-conscious selves are peculiarly susceptible to a certain stratum 
of the Zeitgeist^ and get their inspiration from it, I know not,” See the account of auto- 
matic and impressional script, by Mr. Sidney Dean, which Professor James goes on to 
quote, and which is closely parallel to (for instance) Miss A.*s case, to be given below, 
although the one series of messages comes from the hand of a late member of Congress, 
"all his life a robust and active journalist, author, and man of affairs,” and the other 
from a young lady with so different a history and entourage. 



829] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 121 

Q. “ Where did you live ? ” A. “ Wem.” This name was quite unknown 
to any of us. I am sure it was to myself, and as sure of the word of the others 
as of that of any one I know. 

Q. “ Is it decided who is to be Archbishop of Canterbury ? ” A. “Yes.” 

Q. “Who?” A. “ Durham.” As none of us remembered his name, we 
asked. 

“ What is his name ? ” A. “ Lightfoot.” Of course, how far the main 
statement is correct, I don’t know. The curiosity at the time rested in the fact 
that the name was given which none of us could recall, but was found to be 
right. 

Now, this is just one of the cases which a less wary observer might 
have brought forward as evidence of spirit agency. An identity, it would 
be said, manifested itself, and gave an address which none present had 
ever heard. But I venture to say that there cannot be any real proof 
that an educated person has never heard of Wem. A permanent recorded 
fact, like the name of a town which is to be found (for instance) in Brad- 
shaw’s Guide, may at any moment have been presented to Mr. Smith’s 
eye, and have found a lodgment in his subliminal memory. 

Similarly in the answers “ Durham ” and “ Lightfoot ” we are reminded 
of cases where in a dream we ask a question with vivid curiosity, and are 
astonished at the reply; which nevertheless proceeds from ourselves as 
undoubtedly as does the inquiry. The prediction in this case was 
wrong. 

In the next case, although it is possible that the lady’s mental action 
may have contributed, as Mr. Smith supposes, to the very result which 
she so little desired, the word written may have emanated from the sub- 
liminal self of the writer alone. 


April rjtky 1883. 

Present — H. A. Smith (A), R. A. H. Bickford- Smith (B), another gentle- 
man (C), and two ladies (D and E). 

R. A. H. B.-S. having, on previous occasions, exhibited considerable 
aptitude for automatic writing with a Planchette, it was designed to apply 
this instrument as a means of testing the transference of thoughts. No 
exact record having been made at the time of the whole of the results ob- 
tained, it would be of litde service now to record isolated instances of success. 
Sometimes names thought of were correctly reproduced, sometimes not; but 
the proportion of successes to failures cannot now be accurately stated. The 
following incident, however, very much struck us at the time, and seems 
worthy of record. 

Our method of procedure at the time was as follows: — C, sitting at one 
end of the room, wrote down a name of an author, showing it to no one in 
the room; B had his hands on the Planchette, no one else being in contact 
with him or it C fixed his attention on the written name, and our design 
was to see whether that name would be written through the medium of the 
Planchette. The ladies were meanwhile sewing in silence, and taking no part 
in the experiments. It happened that one of the ladies had at the time, 
owing to some painful family circumstances, the name of a gentleman (not 



122 CHAPTER VIII [830 

present) painfully impressed on her mind. The name was not a common one, 
and though all present knew something of the circumstances, they had not 
been mentioned during the evening, and no one had mentioned the name in 
question, which we will call “ Bolton.” C then wrote “ Dickens ” on his 
paper, and was “ willing ” B with all his might to write this, when, to the 
surprise of every one, Planchette rapidly wrote “ Bolton.” This was not only 
surprising to us, but painful; and no comments were made at the time, the 
subject being changed as rapidly as possible. It would appear from this that 
the effect of C’s volitional concentration was overmatched by the intensity of 
the lady’s thought, though not directed to the same object. 

H. Arthur Smith. 

830 . I quote in 830 A a more complex case (‘^Clelia”) furnished 
by a gentleman whom I there call Mr. A. It is a very good instance of 
the capricious half-nonsense which has often been referred to the agency 
of spirits. The indisputable evidence for complex subliminal mentation 
which this case seems to me to furnish lies in the fact that here Mr. A.’s 
pen wrote not only unintelligible abbreviations, but absolute anagrams 
of sentences ; anagrams, indeed, of the crudest kind, consisting of mere 
transpositions of letters, but still puzzles which the writer had to set him- 
self to decipher ab extra. The chances against drawing a group of letters 
at random which will form several definite words and leave no letters over 
are, of course, very great. 

831 . I add another case, precisely parallel with “Clelia,” with 
which the late Professor Sidgwick furnished me, from his own experience 
with an intimate friend. The account was written in 1885. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 25.) 

The experiences which I mentioned to you as similar to those described 
in your paper — so far as the mere effects of unconscious cerebration are con- 
cerned — occurred about twenty years ago. An intimate friend of mine who 
had interested himself somewhat in Spiritualism, and had read Kardec’s book, 
discovered almost by accident that his hand could write, without any conscious 
volition on his part, words conveying an intelligible meaning — in fact, what 
purported to be communications of departed spirits. He asked me to come 
and stay with him, in order to investigate the phenomenon ; he had been rather 
struck by some things in Kardec’s book, and was quite disposed to entertain 
the hypothesis that the writing might be due to something more than uncon- 
scious cerebration, if it should turn out that it could give accurate information 
on facts unknown to him. The experiments, however, that we made in order 
to test this always failed to show anything in the statements written down that 
might not have been due to the working of his own brain ; and at the end of 
my visit we were both agreed that there was no ground for attributing the 
phenomenon to any other cause but unconscious cerebration. At the same 
time we were continually sui-prised by evidences of the extent to which his 
unconscious self was able to puzzle his conscious mind. As a rule, he knew 
what he was writing, though he wrote involuntarily, but from time to time 
he used to form words or conjunctions of letters which we were unable to 
make out at first, though they had a meaning which we ultimately discovered. 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


123 


831 ] 

Thus one evening, just as we were about to break up, the capital letters 
KHAIRETE were written; their meaning will not be obscure to you, but 
it so happened that it did not at first occur to us that K H represented the 
Greek idea what the letters meant, and tried various 

solutions till the true signification (“Farewell”) suddenly flashed upon my 
mind. On another occasion I asked a question of the supposed communicating 
intelligence, and requested that the answer might be given in German, a 
language which my friend was unable to read or write, though he had learnt to 
speak one or two words while travelling in the country. His hand proceeded 
to write what was apparently one long word, which seemed to him absolutely 
without meaning; but when I came to read it I could see that it was composed 
of a number of German words, though put together without proper gramma- 
tical terminations ; and that these words suggested— though they could hardly 
be said to convey — what would have been a proper and significant answer to 
my question. The words were all common words, such as he might have 
heard in conversation; and when I had separated them, and told him their 
meaning, he seemed faintly to recognise some of them. 

Sometimes, again, when we tried to get correct information as to facts 
unknown to either of us, the result was curious as showing an apparently 
elaborate attempt on the part of my friend^s unconscious self to deceive his 
conscious self. I remember (^e.g.) that one night we got written down what 
purported to be the first sentence in a leading article of the Times that had 
just been written and would appear next morning. The sentence was in the 
familiar style of Printing House Square; but I need not say that when we 
came down to breakfast next morning we did not find it in the printed 
columns. My friend immediately placed his hand on a piece of paper; and 
there came, involuntarily written in the usual way, a long rigmarole of explana- 
tion to the effect that the article originally written, containing the sentence 
that we had got the night before, had been cancelled at the last moment by 
the editor in consequence of some unexpected political exigency, and another 
article hastily substituted. And similarly in other cases when statements 
involuntarily written were ascertained to be false, explanations were written 
exhibiting the kind of ingenuity which a feirly inventive hoaxer might show 
when driven into a corner. 

If I had not had absolute reliance on my friend’s hona fides^ I might have 
supposed that he was mystifying me ; but I could not doubt that his curiosity 
as to the result of the experiments was greater than mine, and that he had 
no conscious desire to make me believe that the phenomenon was anything 
more than the result of unconscious cerebration. 

I am sorry that the notes I took at the time have been destroyed ; but I 
have no doubt that what I have just written is accurately remembered. 

I have said that the writer usually knew what he was writing. This was 
not the case in his first trials, when the writing came in an abrupt, jerky, and 
irregular way, and he rarely knew what he had written till he looked at it. 
But after the firs4 few trials, the flow of unconscious action became even and 
steady, like that of ordinary conscious handwriting; and then he generally— 
though not always — ^knew just before each word was written what it would be ; 
so that when the statements made were entirely contrary to our expectation — 
as was often the case — his surprise used to come just before the word was 
actually written. H. Sidgwick. 



124 


CHAPTER VIII 


[832 

832. The cases of automatic writing thus far given have shown us 
an independent activity of the subliminal self holding colloquies with the 
supraliminal; but they have shown us nothing more. Yet we shall 
find, if we go on accumulating instances of the same general type, that 
traces of telsesthesia and telepathy begin insensibly to show themselves ; 
not at first with a distinctness or a persistence sufficient for actual proof, 
but just in the same gradual way in which indications of supernormal 
faculty stole in amid the disintegration of split personalities ; or in which 
indications of some clairvoyant outlook stole in amid the incoherence of 
dream. Many of these faint indications, valueless, as I have said, for purely 
evidential purposes, are nevertheless of much theoretical interest, as showing 
how near is the subliminal self to that region of supernormal knowledge 
which for the supraliminal is so definitely closed. 

Mr. Schillers case, given in 832 A, is a good example of these 
obscure transitions between normal and supernormal, and introduces us 
to several phenomena which we shall afterwards find recurring again and 
again in independent quarters. Dramatisation of fictitious personalities, 
for instance, which forms so marked a feature in Professor Flournoy’s cele- 
brated case (to be cited later, 834-842) begins in this series of experi- 
ments, conducted throughout with a purely scientific aim, and with no 
sort of belief in the imaginary ^^Irktomar” and the rest. It seems as 
though this “objectivation of types” were part of a romance which some in- 
scrutable but childish humorist was bent on making up. The cryptomne- 
sia” shown in this case through the reproduction of scraps of old French 
with which the automatist had no conscious acquaintance, reached a 
point at which (as again in Professor Flournoy’s case) one is almost driven 
to suspect that it was aided by some slight clairvoyance on the part of 
the subliminal self. 

I subjoin in 832 B a mediseval case where the fictitious per- 
sonalities — though rampant as alleged devils, in that rougher age — have 
no more reality than the milder Heliod ” or Irktomar.” 

833. The next case which I shall quote combines various motor 
automatisms in a very unusual way. I give it at length in the text, partly 
on account of its strangeness and partly in deference to the high scientific 
authority on which I received it. 

The account is taken from an article by Dr. A. T. Myers and myself 
(already referred to, see 577) in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 182 . 

The writer of the following narrative is a physician occupying an im- 
portant scientific post on the Continent of Europe. He is known to us 
by correspondence and through a common friend — himself a savant of 
European reputation — who has talked the case over with Dr. X. and his 
wife, and has read the statement which we now translate and abbreviate. 
We are bound to conceal Dr. X.’s identity, and even his country ; nor is 
this unreasonable, since the bizarrerie of the incidents to be recorded 
would be felt as greatly out of place in his actual scientific surroundings. 



833] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 125 

The Dr. Z. who here appears in the somewhat dubious character of a 
mesmerising spirit, was also, as it happens, a savant of European repute, 
and a personal friend of Dr. X.*s. 


Mme. X, is a lady healthy in body and mind, well-balanced, of sound 
judgment, strong common sense, and a calm and firm character; she is 
charitable without excess ; is not susceptible to flattery, nor given to enthusiasm ; 
she detests falsehood and duplicity and abhors injustice. She has never had 
any one of those serious maladies, such as meningitis, typhoid fever, &c., which 
are apt to leave traces on the nervous system. Nor has she suffered from any 
nervous complaint. She is the very opposite of what would be termed a nervous 
or hysterical subject. She is sensibly affected by accounts of human woes, 
especially among children; but such sensibility by no means explains the 
accesses of violent laughter which I have remarked in her since the commence- 
ment of the series of events to be now related. These accesses, which have 
nothing in common with the hysterical crises which they superficially resemble, 
are always caused by some extraordinary communication emanating from an 
occult intelligence. 

In September 1890, while we were staying in the country, Mme. X. 
sprained her right foot on a very dark night. A fortnight after our return to 

M the foot was almost well; but shortly afterwards I fell ill, and Mme. X. 

underwent much fatigue in nursing me. The injured foot then became inflamed 
and painful; and the left foot also became painful. For all that winter Mme. 
X. was obliged to lie up, the foot being kept from aU movement by plaster or 
silicate dressings. This treatment was ultimately abandoned; the foot was 
simply bound up and crutches used. There was inflammation of the tissues of 
several of the joints of the right foot, and we were seriously alarmed. 

At this point certain friends talked to Mme. X. about the alleged facts of 
Spiritism, of which until that date she had had a very vague notion. They 
praised the beneficent intervention of spirits in disease; but had much diffi- 
culty in inducing her to admit the mere possibility of facts of this nature. I 
can affirm, therefore, that it was only with great difficulty that these friends 
succeeded in vanquishing Mme, X.’s scepticism — which was moreover sup- 
ported by my own objections to Spiritism — and at last persuaded her to submit 
herself to the action of the invisibles. The spirit-guide of a group of which one 
of our friends was a member advised the intervention of the (spirit)-doctor Z. 
A day was arranged when Dr. Z. was to visit Mme. X., and she was informed of 
the date. Owing to other preoccupations we completely forgot this rendezvous. 
On the day named — it was in April 1891 — Dr. Z, announced himself by raps in 
the table. Only then did we recollect the rendezvous agreed upon. I asked 
Dr. Z. his opinion on the nature of the injury to Mme. X.'s foot. By tilts of the 
table, through Mme. X.’s mediumship, he gave the word “ tuberculosis.” He 
meant that there was tuberculosis of the joints, and of this there had been 
some indications. Had Mme. X. been predisposed to tubercle I doubt not that 
this would have supervened. Personally, I much feared this complication, and 
Dr. Z.’s answer (as I at once thought) might well be the mere reflection of my 
fears. It left me no more anxious than before. We now know that there was 
in fact no tuberculosis. In any case, Dr. Z. ordered a merely soothing remedy, 
sulphur ointment. Some days later, at our request. Dr. Z. reappeared and 
promised to undertake the cure of Mme. X.’s feet ; warning us, however, that 



126 


CHAPTER VIII 


[833 

there would never be a “ restittitio ad integrum,” but that the patient would be 
unequal to long walks, and would suffer more or less from her feet in damp 
weather — which has proved to be the case. 

I come now to the phenomena, mainly subjective, which Mme. X.'s case 
began to present. On August I7tli, 1891, the patient felt for the first time a 
unique sensation, accompanied by formication and sense of weight in the lower 
limbs, especially in the feet. This sensation gradually spread over the rest of 
the body, and when it reached the arms, the hands and forearms began to 
rotate. These phenomena recurred after dinner every evening, as soon as the 
patient was quiet in her arm-chair. At this point the X. family went into the 

country to R , and at that place the manifestations took place twice daily 

for some 15 or 20 minutes. Usually the patient placed her two hands on a 
table. The feeling of “magnetisation” then began in tlie feet, which began to 
rotate, and the upper parts of the body gradually shared in the same move- 
ment. At a certain point, the hands automatically detached themselves from 
the table by small, gradual shocks, and at the same time the arms assumed 
a tetanic rigidity somewhat resembling catalepsy- On one occasion when these 
sensations had been strongly marked, and the patient had felt the whole of the 
upper part of her body stiffened, she went to bed and saw in the dark an intense 
light which lasted for several minutes and then gradually disappeared. 

Three weeks after the family’s return to M the phenomena changed 

in character, and gained in interest. The patient had begun to be able to walk 
without much difficulty ; but all forced and voluntary movement of the foot 
was still painful, although when the movement was initiated by the occult 
agency no pain whatever was felt. One evening, after the usual sdance, the 
patient felt her head move against her will. An intelligent intercourse was 
thus set tip between the patient and the unseen agent or agents. The head 
nodded once for “Yes,” twice for “ No,” three times for a strong afiirmation. 
These movements were sometimes sudden and violent enough to cause some- 
thing like pain. Words and phrases could, of course, be spelt out in this way. 
This form of correspondence has never wholly ceased ; although the intensity 
of the phenomenon has now much diminished. The occult agent now im- 
presses one or other of Mme. X.’s hands with movements which trace in the 
air the form of letters of the alphabet ; — a plan which works well and quickly. 

Mme. X, is also a writing medium ; and this power first showed itself in a 
strange way during the stay in the country of which I have already spoken. 
She was writing a letter one day, with no thought of these unseen agencies, 
when suddenly she felt her hand checked. Warned by a special sensation, she 
still held the pen. Her hand placed itself on a sheet of paper and began 
rapidly to write alarming predictions. The writings retained this tone only for 
a few hours; and soon the communications became trivial in character, and, 
save in some exceptional instances, have since remained so. 

Another phenomenon followed shortly afterwards. One day Mme. X. felt 
herself lifted with force from her arm-chair and compelled to stand upright. 
Her feet and her whole body then executed a systematic calisthenic exercise, in 
which all the movements were regulated and made rhythmic with finished art. 
This was renewed on following days, and towards the end of each performance 
— sometimes of an hour’s or two hours’ duration — ^the movements acquired ex- 
treme energy. Mme. X. has never had the smallest notion of chamber-gym- 
nastics, Swedish or otherwise, and these movements would have been very 
painful and fatiguing had she attempted them of her own will. Yet at the end 



833] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 127 

of each performance she was neither fatigued nor out of breath. All was going 
well, and Dr. Z. had announced that henceforth his attentions would not be 
needed, when next day a singular accident threw everything back. Mme. X. 
had mounted with great precaution upon a low chair with four legs and a large 
base of support to take an object from a wardrobe. Just as she was about to 
descend, the chair was violently snatched from under her feet and pushed to a 
distance. Mme. X. fell on the diseased foot, and the cure had to begin again. 
[In a subsequent letter Dr. X. explains that by Mme. X.’s account this move- 
ment was distinctly due to an invisible force; no natural slipping of the chair.] 

Mme. X. was accustomed to bandage her own foot every morning. One 
day she was astonished to feel her hands seized and guided by an occult force. 
From that day onwards the bandaging was done according to all the rules of 
the art, and with a perfection which would have done credit to the most skilful 
surgeon of either hemisphere. Although very adroit with her hands, Mme. X. 
had never had occasion to practise nursing or to study minor surgery, yet the 
bandages thus automatically applied were irreproachable, and were admired by 
every one. When Mme. X. wished to renew the bandages, she placed the 
strips all rolled up upon a table within reach of her hand, and her hand then 
automatically took the bandage which best suited the occult operation. 

Mme. X. is accustomed to arrange her own hair. One morning she said 
laughingly, “ I wish that a Court hairdresser would do my hair for me ; my 
arms are tired.” At once she felt her hands acting automatically, and with no 
fatigue for her arms, which seemed to be held up ; and the result was a compli- 
cated coiffure^ which in no way resembled her usual simple mode of arrangement. 

The oddest of all these automatic phenomena consisted in extremely grace- 
ful gestures which Mme. X. was caused to execute with her arms — gestures as 
though of evocation or adoration of some imaginary divinity, or gestures of 
benediction. When the occult agent placed her before the portrait of her son 
whom she lost five years ago the scene became really affecting, and moved 
Mme. X. herself to tears. The few persons who witnessed this spectacle are 
agreed that it was worthy of the powers of the greatest actress. Of such a gift 
Mme. X. has nothing; her nature is simple and frank, but cold rather than 
demonstrative. 

At the Paris Exhibition of 1889 Mme. X. once saw the “ Javanese dance,” 
consisting of rhythmic motions of the body with contortions of the arms. The 
occult agents caused her to repeat this dance several times with perfect exe- 
cution. 

[Disliking these phenomena,] Mme. X. has tried very hard to free herself 
from this control, and has to a great extent succeeded, by the use of cold water, 
by strongly resisting all communications, and by “ passes of disengagement ” 
executed by a hypnotiser. [This has reduced the phenomena almost entirely to 
automatic writing, which, though vague or fantastic when dealing with ordinary 
topics, is precise and intelligent on medical questions.] 

Thus far the phenomena recorded have been purely subjective ; in those 
which follow there is something objective also. When one has the honour to 
be treated by a physician of Dr. Z.’s celebrity (!) ordinary kindness bids one 
sometimes think of benefiting one’s neighbour. One of the officials of my de- 
partment had suffered for many years from pleurodynia, which occasionally laid 
him up altogether, and also from frequent attacks of sick headache. Dr. Z. was 
consulted and prescribed an internal treatment which, to my great surprise, con- 
sisted mainly of “ dosimetric granules ” ; [which this great official surgeon had 



128 


CHAPTER VIII 


[833 

not in his lifetime employed] . He also caused Mme. X. to perform “ passes of 
disengagement ” for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. It was noticeable that 
while these passes were made with extreme violence, Mme. X.’s hands were 
arrested at the distance of a millimetre at most from the patient’s face, without 
ever touching him in the least. Mme- X. could never of herself have given to 
her movements such a degree of precision. For two years now the patient has 
felt no more of his pleurodynia, and his 7mgraim is, if not altogether cured, at 
least greatly reduced. 

One day — I suppose by way of a joke — Dr. Z., after one of these stances, 
pursued the patient with his influence as he walked home, and made him exe- 
cute with his hands various gestures and contortions which drew the attention 
of passers-by, 

Another time our servant A., whose husband was ill in hospital, came cry- 
ing to Mme. X. and told her that she had lost all hope of ever seeing him cured, 
&c. Mme. X. asked Dr. Z. to take him in hand. He promised to do so, and 
said that he would make him feel his presence. Next morning A. went to the 
hospital and found her husband in despair. “ Look here,” he said, “ besides what 
I had already, I am falling into a nervous malady. I have been shaken about 
all night — my arms and legs have executed movements which I could not con- 
trol.” A. began to laugh, and told her husband that Dr. Z. had taken him in 
hand, and that he would soon get well. The patient is going about as usual 
to-day, and is as well as an incurable pulmonary affection allows him to be. 

Under other circumstances I have myself consulted Dr. Z. as to patients 
under ray professional care. On each occasion he has given a precise diagnosis 
and has indicated a treatment, consisting mainly of dosimetric granules, some- 
times associated with other treatment. These facts have been repeated many 
times, and I owe great gratitude to Dr. Z. for the advice which he has given me. 
His prescriptions were always rational ; and when I showed fears as to certain 
doses which appeared to me too large, he took pains to reassure me, but stuck 
to his prescriptions. I have never had to repent having followed the advice of 
my eminent colleague in the other world ; and I am bound to state distinctly 
that every time that a medical question has been submitted to him the replies 
and advice of Dr. Z. have been of an astonishing clearness and precision. I 
cannot say the same of communications obtained on other subjects, in which 
he seemed to take a malicious pleasure in leading us wrong. He — or some 
one else — has often announced to us, with minute and intimate detail, the 
deaths of persons known to us ; who were found on inquiry to be alive and 
well. Lastly, I give a detail which tends to prove the reality of this occult 
magnetisation. Mme. X. has often seen two luminous rays projected upon 
her feet during the stances of which I have spoken above. The rays were 
invisible in full light, and in complete darkness, but were seen in partial 
obscurity, and resembled rays of the sun passing through small openings into 
a dark room. If this was a hallucination, it was shared on two occasions by 
the hypnotiser of whom I have already spoken. I myself never saw the rays, 
which may be compared with those said to have been seen by somnambulists 
and other sensitives as emanating under certain circumstances from the human 
frame. 

In reply to inquiries Dr. X. adds the following remarks : — 

It is not impossible that Mme. X. should have at some time heard myself 
or others pronounce the names of the medicaments prescribed. But when she 



833] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 129 

gave me an exact diagnosis, and formulated in detail a rational treatment, I am 
sure that this did not come from her own mind. She has never studied any 
branch of medicine — neither the therapeutic art itself, nor the minor art of com- 
posing formulae. Nor could I have been acting suggestively, since my own 
ideas were often quite dijfferent from those which the occult agent dictated ; 
unless, indeed, my unconscious self acted upon Mme. X.’s consciousness, which 
seems to me a somewhat too elaborate view. 

The dosimetric granules are a convenient mode of administering alkaloids, 
glycosides, and other toxic principles, and I have often been alarmed at the 
doses which Dr. Z. prescribed. I confess that I was astonished to find that 
an occult agent who thus claimed to be a bygone Professor should have 
selected a form of medication on which the Faculty look with no approv- 
ing eye. 

As to Mme. X.’s foot, I have a firm conviction that it was healed by the 
rhythmical movements imposed, and by the “magnetisation’’ of the occult 
agent. 

You ask me whether I consider these agents as belonging to the human 
t3q)e. Provisionally, Yes ; unless we admit that there exists, superposed 
upon our world, another world of beings distinct from humanity, but knowing 
it and studying it as we study the other regions of nature, and assuming for 
the sake of amusement or for some other motive the rdle of our departed 
friends. 

Dr. X. concludes with warnings against the dangers of such influence 
or possession ; dangers which he thinks that Mme. X. avoided by her 
calmness of temperament and resolute maintenance of self-control. 

The savant already mentioned as introducing us to this case sends us 
(May, 1893) the following corroborative statement. He is, it may be 
observed, himself a physician. 

I have frequently seen Mme. X. For the last year or two she has had no 
more phenomena ; but about two years .ago she presented some curious 
symptoms. In the first place, when she conversed with the late Dr. Z., her 
so-called magnetiser, his replies were made by movements of her head. She 
would seat herself in an arm-chair, and according as Dr. Z. wished to say yes 
or no, there were either two or three backward movements of her head. Her 
head threw itself backwards with force, and gave a vigorous blow to the chair- 
back. This movement was sometimes so violent that the shock was painful, 
so that Mme. X. cried out at the sharpness of the blows. Long sentences coUld 
thus be given, for when the alphabet was spelt out there were movements and 
blows given with the head, just as in ordinary Spiritistic conversations there 
are tilts of the table. ' Often, also, while one was talking with Mme. X., there 
were movements of her head, indicating that the so-called Dr. Z. was taking 
part in the discussion, and approving or disapproving such and such a phrase. 
More rarely, Mme. X. would unconsciously articulate afew words with her lips, 
and these words were professedly dictated by Dr. Z. As to the other pheno- 
mena, I have twice been present at the ample, semi-ecstatic movements of 
salutation and prayer which Mme. X. made against her will. It was a curious 
scene ; for Mme. X. preserved her consciousness all the time and continued to 
talk to us while executing this strange and complicated mimicry. It is to be 
observed that Mme. X. is a person of calm nature, and rather apathetic than 
VOL. n. I 



130 CHAPTER VIII [834 

nervous. She has strong common-sense, is healthy, and reasonable in char- 
acter. It seems that she never had any previous hallucination. She is an 
excellent mother of a family, and deservedly enjoys general confidence and 
esteem. 

Dr. X. sent us two of the prescriptions written by Mme. X.*s hand. 
We compared them with British Pharmacopoeal prescriptions, by the 
aid of Burggraeve’s Guide de Medecine Dosimetrique (Paris, 1872). Both 
prescriptions are in fair accord with English practice ; the doses of arsenic 
in the one case, of strychnia in the other, being rather stronger than 
usually given. Each prescription contains several ingredients, in what 
seems reasonable proportion. 

Finally, we learn that Dr. Z. in life was gay and fond of practical jokes. 

834. These last cases have become increasingly complex. One 
wonders to what extent this strange manufacture of inward romances can be 
carried. There is, I may say, a great deal more of it in the world than is 
commonly suspected. I have myself received so many cases of these 
dramatised utterances — as though a number of different spirits were 
writing in turn through some automatist’s hand — that I have come to 
recognise the operation of some law of dreams, so. to call it, as yet but 
obscurely understood. The alleged personalities are for the most part 
not only unidentified, but purposely unidentifiable ; they give themselves 
romantic or ludicrous names, and they are produced and disappear as 
lightly as puppets on a mimic stage. The main curiosity of such cases 
lies in their very persistence and complexity ; it would be a waste of space 
to quote any of the longer ones in such a way as to do them justice. 
And, fortunately, there is no need for me to give any of my own cases ; 
since a specially good case has been specially well observed and reported 
in a book with which many of my readers are probably already acquainted, 
— Professor Floumoy^s Des Indes a la planete Mars : Etude sur un cas 
de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie (Paris and Geneva, 1900). I shall 
here make some comments on that striking record, which all students 
of these subjects ought to study in detail. 

835. It happens, no doubt, to any group which pursues for many 
years a somewhat unfamiliar line of inquiry that those of their points 
which are first assailed get gradually admitted, so that as they become 
interested in new points they may scarcely observe what change has taken 
place in the reception of the old. The reader of early volumes of the 
Proceedings S.P.R. will often observe this kind of progress of opinion. 
And now Professor Flournoy^s book indicates in a remarkable way how 
things have moved in the psychology of the last twenty years. The book 
— a model of fairness throughout — is indeed, for the most part, critically 
destructive in its treatment of the quasi-supemormal phenomena with 
which it deals. But what a mass of conceptions a competent psychologist 
now takes for granted in this realm, which the official science of twenty 
years ago would scarcely stomach our hinting at ! 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


835 ] 


131 


One important point may be noticed at once as decisively corroborating 
a contention of my own made long ago, and at a time when it probably 
seemed fantastic to many readers. Arguing for the potential continuity of 
subliminal mentation (as against those who urged that there were only 
occasional flashes of submerged thought, like scattered dreams), I said 
that it would soon be found needful to press this notion of a continuous 
subliminal self to the utmost, if we were not prepared to admit a con- 
tinuous spiritual guidance or possession. Now, in fact, with Professor 
Flournoy’s subject the whole discussion turns on this very point. There 
is unquestionably a continuous and complex series of thoughts and feelings 
going on beneath the threshold of consciousness of H^l^ne Smith.” 
Is this submerged mentation due in any degree or in any manner to the 
operation of spirits other than Smith’s own? That is the broad 
question ; but it is complicated here by a subsidiary question : whether, 
namely, any previous incarnations of Smith’s — other phases of her 

own spiritual history, now involving complex relationship with the past — 
have any part in the crowd of personalities which seem struggling to 
express themselves through her quite healthy organism. 

Smith, I should at once say, is not,^ and never has been, a paid 
medium. At the date of M. Flournoy’s book, she occupied a leading post 
on the staff of a large maison de commerce at Geneva, and gave stances 
to her friends simply because she enjoyed the exercise of her mediumistic 
faculties, and was herself interested in their explanation. 

Her organism, I repeat, is regarded, both by herself and by others, as 
a quite healthy one. Smith, says Professor Flournoy, declares dis- 
tinctly that she is perfectly sound in body and mind, — in no way lacking in 
equilibrium, — and indignantly repudiates the idea that there is any hurtful# 
anomaly or the slightest danger in mediumship as she practises it. 

I am so far from being abnormal,” she writes, that I have never 
been so clear-sighted, so lucid, so capable of judging rapidly on all points, 
as since I have been developed as a medium.” No one appears to dispute 
this estimate, which the facts of Smith’s progress in her line of business 
distinctly confirm. 

It is in fact incontestable ” (continues Professor Flournoy, p. 41), that 
H^l^ne has a head extremely well organised \ and that from a business 
point of view she manages admirably the very important and complicated 
department of which she is at the head in this large shop where she is 
employed \ so that to accuse her of being morbid simply because she is a 
medium is to say the least an inadmissible feUUo prindpii so long as the 
very nature of mediumship remains a thing so obscure and open to discus- 
sion as is still the case. . . . 

“ It is clear that there exist amid the ranks of the learned faculty 
certain spirits narrow and limited, strong in their own specialities, but 

^ For Smith’s later history, see Professor Flournoy’s Nouvelln Observations sur 

uncas de Somnambulisme^ Geneva, 1902. — Editors. 



132 CHAPTER VIII [835 

ready to cast their anathemas at whatever does not fit in with their 
preconceived ideas, and to treat as morbid, pathological, insane, every- 
thing which differs from the normal type of human nature, such as they 
have conceived it on the model of their own small personalities. . . . 

But in the first place the essential criterion in judging of a human 
being’s value is not the question whether he is in good or bad health, like 
or unlike other people, but whether he fulfils adequately his special task — 
how he acquits himself of the functions incumbent on him, and what may 
be expected or hoped from him. I am not aware that Miss Smith’s 
psychical faculties have ever interfered with her accomplishment of any of 
her duties ; rather they have helped her therein ; for her normal and con- 
scious activity has often found an unexpected assistance — which non- 
mediums lack I — in her subliminal inspirations and her automatisms, which 
effect a useful end. 

“In the second place, it is far from being demonstrated that medium- 
ship is a pathological phenomenon. It is abnormal, no doubt, in the sense 
of being rare, exceptio7ial ; but rarity is not morbidity. The few years 
during which these phenomena have been seriously and scientifically 
studied have not been enough to allow us to pronounce on their true 
nature. It is interesting to note that in the countries where these studies 
have been pushed the furthest, in England and America, the dominant 
view among the savants who have gone deepest into the matter is not at 
all unfavourable to mediumship; and that, far from regarding it as a 
special case of hysteria, they see in it a faculty superior, advantageous, 
healthy, of which hysteria is a form of degenerescence, a pathological 
parody, a morbid caricature.*' 

The phenomena which this sensitive presents (H616ne Smith is Pro- 
fessor Flournoy’s pseudonym for her) cover a range which looks at 
first very wide, although a clearer analysis shows that these varieties are 
more apparent than real, and that self-suggestion will perhaps account for 
all of them. 

There is, to begin with, eveiy kind of automatic irruption of subliminal 
into supraliminal life. As Professor Flournoy says (p. 45) : '^Phenomena 
of hypermnesia, divinations, mysterious findings of lost objects, happy 
inspirations, exact presentiments, just intuitions, teleological (purposive or 
helpful) automatisms, in short, of every kind; she possesses in a high 
degree this small change of genius — which constitutes a more than suffi- 
cient compensation for the inconvenience resulting from those distractions 
and moments of absence of mind which accompany her visions; and 
which, moreover, generally pass unobserved.** 

At stances — where the deeper change has no inconveniences — 
H^l^ne undergoes a sort of self-hypnotisation which produces various 
lethargic and somnambulistic states. And when she is alone and safe 
from interruption she has spontaneous visions, during which there may 
be some approach to ecstasy. At the stances she experiences positive 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


133 


835 ] 

hallucinations, and also negative hallucinations, or systematised anses- 
thesise, so that, for instance, she will cease to see some person present, 
especially one who is to be the recipient of messages in the course of the 
stance. '^It seems as though a dream-like incoherence presided over 
this preliminary work of disaggregation, in which the normal perceptions 
are arbitrarily split up or absorbed by the subconscious personality- 
eager for materials with which to compose the hallucinations which it is 
preparing.’* Then, when the stance begins, the main actor is H^l^ne’s 
guide Leopold (a pseudonym for Cagliostro) who speaks and writes through 
her, and is, imfact, either her leading spirit-control or (much more pro- 
bably) her most developed form of secondary personality. 

H^I^ne, indeed, has sometimes the impression of becoming Leopold 
for a moment (p. 117). Professor Flournoy compares this sensation with 
the experience of Mr. Hill Tout {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 309), who 
feels himself becoming his own father, who is manifesting through him. 
It should be added that, although somewhat pompous, Leopold always 
appears both sensible and dignified. “ Leopold,” says Professor Flournoy 
(p. 134) certainly manifests a very honourable and amiable side of 
Smith’s character, and in taking him as her 'guide’ she has followed 
inspirations which are doubtless among the highest in her nature.” 

The high moral quality of these automatic communications, on which 
Professor Flournoy thus insists, is a phenomenon worth consideration. I 
do not mean that it. is specially strange in the case of Smith. She 
appears to be (if the phrase is thought permissible in describing a medium) 
a person of remarkably well-regulated mind. One is not surprised that 
her subliminal self should be as blameless a? her supraliminal. But in 
reality the remark here made by Professor Flournoy has a much wider 
application. The almost universally high moral tone of genuinely auto- 
matic utterances — whether claimed as spirit communications or pro- 
ceeding obviously from the automatist himself — ^has not, I think, been 
sufficiently noticed, or adequately explained. I will mention two points 
which have struck me as specially noticeable. In the first place I have 
read many pulpit and other attacks on " spiritualism,” under which name 
all automatic utterance is commonly included, and I cannot remember 
any instance in which such an attack has bpen made effective by the 
quotation of passages of immoral tendency — ^base, cruel, or impure. The 
attack, so far as I know, has always been of a kind which, in the eye 
of the philosopher, is rather complimentary to the writings attacked. For 
it seems (and this is the second point to which I wished to call attention 
here) that no one of the various conflicting Churches has been able to 
claim the general drift of automatic messages as making for its special 
tenets. The various controversialists, where they have been candid, have 
admitted moral elevation, but, — from their various opposing points of 
view, — have agreed in deploring theological laxity. 

I must indeed confess myself unable to explain why it is that beneath 



134 CHAPTER VIII [836 

the frequent incoherence, frequent commonplaceness, frequent pomposity 
of these messages there should almost always be a substratum of better 
sense, of truer catholicity, than is usually to be heard except from the 
leading minds of the generation. It is possible that in some hidden way 
the Zeit-Geist affects the subliminal strata even of persons superficially 
narrow and bigoted by an influence urging them all in somewhat the same 
direction ; — so that the best available thought of the age is inspiring the 
age more profoundly than we know. And it is possible also that these 
utterances may bear in reality some obscure relation to truths profounder 
than we have as yet normally acquired. What is omitted, indeed, from 
current beliefs is as significant as what is added thereto, and the general 
product looks more like a very poor account of something which in itself 
is great and new, but dimly apprehended, than like a compromise between 
conflicting dogmas, or a selection, from familiar hortatory themes, 

836. Thus much I think it was fair to say ; — or I may speak more 
strongly and maintain that thus much it. was a positive duty to insist upon. 
It is only right that this mass of communications, taken as a whole, 
should be defended from the random accusations of journalist or 
pulpiteer. 

But, in view of what is to follow, I may here define the limited extent 
to which my support of the content of automatic messages goes. 

I think, then, that in evidential messages — where there is real reason 
to believe that an identified spirit is communicating — there is a marked 
and independent consensus on such matters as these spirits profess them- 
selves able to discuss. And, again, in non-evidential messages — in com- 
munications which probably proceed from the automatist^s subliminal 
self — I hold that there is a remarkable and undesigned concordance in 
high moral tone, and also in avoidance of certain prevalent tenets, which 
many of the automatists do supraliminally hold as true. But I also 
insist that these subliminal messages, even when not incoherent, are 
generally dream-like, and often involve tenets which (though never in my 
experience base or immoral) are unsupported by evidence, and are probably 
to be referred to mere self-suggestion. 

Prominent among such tenets is one which forms a large part of M”* 
Smithes communications; namely, the doctrine of reincarnaHon^ or of 
successive lives spent by each soul upon this planet. 

The simple fact that such was probably the opinion both of Plato and 
of Virgil shows that there is nothing here which is alien to the best reason 
or to the highest instincts of men. Nor, indeed, is it easy to realise any 
theory of the direct creation of spirits at such different stages of advance- 
ment as those which enter upon the earth in the guise of mortal man. 
There must^ one feels, be some kind of continuity — some form of spiritual 
Past. Yet for reincarnation there is at present no valid evidence ; and 
it must be my duty to show how its assertion in any given instance — 
Smith’s included — constitutes in itself a strong argument in favour 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


836 ] 


135 


of self-suggestion rather than extraneous inspiration as the source of the 
messages in which it appears. 

Whenever civilised men have received what they have regarded as a 
revelation (which has generally been somewhat fragmentary in its first 
delivery) they have naturally endeavoured to complete and systematise 
it as well as they could. In so doing they have mostly aimed at three 
objects : (i) to understand as much as possible of the secrets of the uni- 
verse ; (2) X.Q justify as far as possible Heaven’s dealings with men; and 
(3) to appropriate as far as possible the favour or benefit which the revela- 
tion may show as possibly accruing to believers. For all these purposes 
the doctrine of reincarnation has proved useful in many countries and 
times. But in no case could it seem more appropriate than in this last 
revelation (so to term it) through automatic messages and the like. And 
as a matter of history, a certain vigorous preacher of the new faith, known 
under the name of Allan Kardec, took up reincamationist tenets, enforced 
them (as there is reason to believe) by strong suggestion upon the minds 
of various automatic writers, and set them forth in dogmatic works which 
have had much influence, especially among Latin nations, from their clarity, 
symmetry, and intrinsic reasonableness. Yet the data thus collected were 
absolutely insufficient, and the Livre des Esprits must simply rank as the 
premature formulation of a new religion — the premature systematisation 
of a nascent science. 

I follow Professor Flournoy in believing that the teaching of that work 
must have directly or indirectly influenced the mind of Smith, and 
is therefore responsible for her claim to these incarnations previous to that 
which she now undergoes or enjoys. 

On the general scheme here followed, each incarnation, if the last has 
been used aright, ought to represent some advance in the scale of being. 
If one earth-life has been misused, the next earth-life ought to afford 
opportunity for expiation— or for further practice in the special virtue 
which has been imperfectly acquired. Thus Smith’s present life in a 
humble position may be thought to atone for her overmuch pride in her 
last incarnation — as Marie Antoinette. 

But the mention of Marie Antoinette suggests the risk which this 
theory fosters — of assuming that one is the issue of a distinguished line 
of spiritual progenitors; insomuch that, with whatever temporary sets- 
back, one is sure in the end to find oneself in a leading position. 

Pythagoras, indeed, was content with the secondary hero Euphorbus 
as his bygone self. But in our days Dr. Anna Kingsford and Mr. Edward 
Maitland must needs have been the Virgin Mary and St. John the Divine. 
And Victor Hugo, who was naturally well to the front in these self-multi- 
plications, took possession of most of the leading personages of antiquity 
whom he could manage to string together in chronological sequence. 
It is obvious that any number of re-bom souls can play at this game ; but 
where no one adduces any evidence it seems hardly worth while to go on. 



136 CHAPTER VIII [837 

Even Pythagoras does not appear to have adduced any evidence beyond 
his ipse dixit for his assertion that the alleged shield of Euphorbus had in 
reality been borne by that mythical hero. Meantime the question as to 
reincarnation has actually been put to a very few spirits who have given 
some real evidence of their identity. So far as I know, no one of these 
has claimed to know anything personally of such an incident j although 
all have united in saying that their knowledge was too limited to allow them 
to generalise on the matter. 

H61^ne’s controls and previous incarnations — to return to our subject 
— do perhaps suffer from the general fault of aiming too high. She has 
to her credit a control from the planet Mars ; one pre-incarnation as an 
Indian Princess ; and a second (as I have said) as Marie Antoinette. 

837. In each case there are certain impressive features in the im- 
personation ; but in each case also careful analysis negatives the idea that 
we can be dealing with a personality really revived from a former epoch, 
or from a distant planet \ — and leaves us inclined to explain everything by 
cryptomnesia ” (as Professor Flournoy calls 'submerged memory), and 
that subliminal inventiveness of which we already know so much. 

‘The Martian control was naturally the most striking at first 
sight. Its reality was supported by a Martian language, written in a 
Martian alphabet, spoken with fluency, and sufficiently interpreted into 
French to show that such part of it, at any rate, as could be committed to 
writing was actually a grammatical and coherent form of speech. 

And here I reach an appropriate point at which to remark that this 
book of Professor Flournoy^s is not the first account which has been 
published of M"® H^l^ne. Professor Lemaitre, of Geneva, printed two 
papers about her in the Annates des Sciences Psychiques: first, a long 
article in the number for March-April, 1897 — then a reply to M. Lef 6 bure 
in the number for May-June, 1897 . In these papers he distinctly claims 
supernormal powers for Hdl^ne, implying a belief in her genuine 
possession by spirits, and even in 'her previous incarnations, and in 
the extra-terrene or ostensibly Martian language. J read these papers 
at the time, but put them aside as inconclusive, mainly because that 
very language, on which M. Lemaitre seemed most to rely, appeared to 
me so obviously factitious as to throw doubt on all the evidence pre- 
sented by an observer who could believe -that denizens of another planet 
talked to each other in a language corresponding in every particular with 
simple French idioms, and including such words as quisa for quel^ quise for 
quelle^ veteche for vcir, veche for vu ; — ^the fantastic locutions of the nursery. 
M. Lemaitre remarks, as a proof of the consistency and reality of the 
extra-terrene tongue, L'un des premiers mots que nous ayons eus, 
mStiche, signifiant monsieur, se retrouve plus tard avec le sens de hommeP 
That is to say, having transmogrified monsieur into metiche, H^l^ne further 
transmutes tes messieurs into cee mhtiche; — in naive imitation of ordinary 
French usage. And this tongue is supposed to have sprung up indepen- 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


837] 


137 


dently of all the influences which have shaped terrene grammar in general 
or the French idiom in particular ! And even after Professor Flournoy’s 
analysis of this absurdity I see newspapers speaking of this Martian 
language as an impressive phenomenon ! They seem willing to believe 
that the evolution of another planet, if it has culminated in conscious life 
at all, can have culminated in a conscious life into which we could all of 
us enter affably, with a suitable Ollendorff’s phrase-book under our arms ; 
— mi cee meUcheone qudtp — “ ici les hommes (messieurs) sont bons,” — 
here the men are good ; ” — and the rest of it. 

To the student of automatisms, of course, all this irresistibly suggests 
the automatist’s own subliminal handiwork. It is a case of glossolaly,” 
or speaking with tongues” ; and we have no modern case — no case later 
than the half-mythical Miracles of the Cevennes — where such utterance 
has proved to be other than gibberish. I have had various automatic 
hieroglyphics shown to me, with the suggestion that they may be cursive 
Japanese, or perhaps an old dialect of Northern China ; but I confess 
that I have grown tired of showing these fragments to the irresponsive 
expert, who suggests that they may also be vague reminiscences of the 
scrolls in an Oriental tea-tray. 

It seems indeed to be a most difficult thing to get telepathically into 
any brain even fragments of a language which it has not learnt. A few 
simple Italian, and even Hawaiian, words occur in Mrs. Piper’s utterances, 
coming apparently from departed spirits, {see 960 A and 961), but these, 
with some Kaffir and Chinese words given through Miss Browne (871 A), 
form, I think, almost the only instances which I know. And, speaking 
generally, whatever is elaborate, finished, pretentious, is likely to be of 
subliminal facture ; while only things scrappy, perplexed, and tentative 
have floated to us veritably from afar. 

Analysis of the so-called Martian language proves it to be no exception 
to this rule. It is, in fact, a childish, though elaborate, imitation of 
French ; — ^whose true parallel lies in those languages of the nursery which 
little brothers and sisters sometimes invent — as a tongue not understanded 
of their elders. The outbursts of this Martian speech are noticeable as a 
parallel to the deific verbiage,” which used to throng through the lips of 
Mr. le Baron {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. p. 277), and for a long time 
impressed itself upon him as having some reality in it somewhere. 

The most interesting peculiarity, indeed, in the Martian tongue is its 
exclusively French formation ; which would seem to argue its elaboration 
in a mind familiar with French alone.* Now M“* Smith — who, by the 
way, is no linguist ^ — had some German lessons in her girlhood, and one 
is thus led to the curious supposition that the Martian tongue was 
invented by some element in her personality which preceded the German 
lessons. 

^ Her father, however, was acquainted with some half-dozen European languages 
and had besides some knowledge of Latin and Greek. (SeeZ?^j’ Indes^ p. 15.) 



138 CHAPTER VIII [838 

I may perhaps recall here, a trivial experience of my own illustrative of 
this ingenious hypothesis of Professor Flournoy^s. I once dreamt that 
I saw an epitaph in Greek hexameters inscribed on a wall, of which on 
waking I remembered only one line — 

Avrap 6 p.€V Kara yijv Oakepbv Kvcrc 8aKv6fi€Voy TTvp* 

I could not construe this line, which is, in fact, nonsense; — till I 
remembered in a sudden flash a certain sense of shame felt by me as a 
small boy at having thought that KaroL meant under — as though Kara y^v 
were /carw. 

The line, then, had a meaning: But he, indeed, beneath the earth, 
embraced the strong consuming flame ; ” — ^not a well-chosen sentiment for 
an epitaph, perhaps, but yet up to the ordinary level of one’s dreaming 
self. There must, then, have been some fragment of me yet surviving 
from innocent boyhood, and blundering subliminally in the same old style. 

838. ‘‘This fact of the primitive nature of Smith’s various 
hypnoidal elucubrations, and the different ages of her life to which they 
belong, seems to me (says Professor Flournoy, p. 415) to constitute 
one of the most interesting psychological points in her mediumship. It 
tends to show that her secondary personalities are probably in their origin, 
as has sometimes been suggested, phenomena partly of reversion to the 
ordinary personality — survivals or momentary returns of inferior phases, 
overpassed for a longer or shorter time, and which should normally have 
been absorbed in the development of the individual instead of appearing 
externally in strange proliferations. Just as teratology illustrates embry- 
ology, which in return explains teratology, and as both of these unite in 
throwing light on anatomy, — similarly one may hope that the study of the 
facts of mediumship may some day help to furnish us with some just and 
fruitful view of normal psychogenesis, — which in return will enable us 
better to comprehend the appearance of these singular phenomena; 
so that psychology in general may thence acquire a better and exacter 
conception of human personality.” 

The faculty here touched upon — the strong reviviscence of long-past 
emotional states — seems to me eminently characteristic, at any rate, of 
artistic and poetical genius. 

The artist must needs desire to have his whole life to draw upon. He 
must often wish to live in the past more vividly than in the present, and 
to feel again what he has felt, even more than to see again what he has 
seen. Visual and auditory memories, pushed to absolute vividness, become 
hallucinations of vision or audition ; and this point of absolute hallucina- 
tion few artists are able or even desire to reach. But emotional or affective 
memory may for some gifted natures be pushed on into all its old actual 
vividness with pure gain to art ; nay, if the man himself has grown more 
capable of feeling, then the revived emotion (like certain optical memory- 
images) may even go beyond the original. 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


139 


Thus Sully Prudhomme says, in speaking of a hidden insurgent 
memory of this type : C’est meme cette r^viviscence qui seule me per- 
mettrait de retoucher les vers que cette petite aventure, si ancienne, m’a 
fait commettre, et de faire b^n^ficier de Texp^rience que j’ai acquise dans 
mon art Texpression de mes sentiments d'autrefois.’* And he asks whether 
every memory of feeling does not assume a certain character of hallucina- 
tion. Wordsworth (as Aubrey de Vere has told us, and as the sonnet 
surprised by joy,” shows) had very much the same experience. And 
Littr^ {Revue Positive^ 1877, p. 660) describes what he calls the affective 
automnesia” — or spontaneously arising flow of emotion — with which quite 
suddenly, and late in life, he remembered losing a young sister when he 
was ten years old : Ce meme ^v^nement s'est reproduit avec une peine 
non moindre, certes, que celle que j'6prouvais au moment meme, et qui 
alia jusqu'^ mouiller mes yeux de- larmes.” ^ 

This train of reflections, I think, well illustrates that kinship between 
the working of what is admitted as genius and the dreamlike subliminal 
mentation with which we are here dealing, of which I have often spoken, 
and to which I must again presently recur. 

Turning now to the Hindoo pre-incarnation, we observe that it offers a 
linguistic problem of a rather different kind. Certain Sanscrit letters 
are written, and certain Sanscrit words are uttered — mixed, it is true, 
with much quasi^Sanscrit gibberish, and not exceeding what a quick eye 
and memory might pick up in a few hours from a Sanscrit grammar. 
H^l^ne, however — ^whose complete good faith is vouched for on all sides 
and who herself undoubtedly believes with her whole heart in the spirit- 
hypothesis — denies that she ever consulted or even to her knowledge saw, 
a Sanscrit grammar. Again, M. Flournoy* s careful researches have shown 
that incidents of the Indian history ^ or pseudo-history, on which the narra- 
tive of this incarnation turns, are undoubtedly derived from a particular 
passage in a rare and antiquated history of India by de Marlas — which 

Smith asserts that she never saw, and which it seems very improbable 
-that she should have seen.^ This knowledge is worked up in a way indicat- 
ing considerable familiarity with the East, and quasi-Indian tunes and 
gestures are employed with great verisimilitude. 

I need not here go into the details of the more modem and accessible 
characterisation of Marie Antoinette. 

839 . In the facts which I have already given, we have got this 

1 See Ribot, Psycholope des Sentiments^ p. 152. 

2 See, however, Nouvelles Observations (pp. 212-213), from which it appears that a 
gentleman in whose house Smith used to give stances possessed a Sanscrit grammar, 
and kept it in the room where the stances were held. In the same book (pp. 206-216), 
Professor Flournoy points out several other sources besides Marlas* history (itself to be 
found in the two principal libraries of Geneva) from which her knowledge of India 
might have been derived ; and he shows (pp. 203-206) that the Hindoo romance pre- 
sented internal contradictions which made it inconsistent with any hypothesis of re- 
incarnation, — Editors. 



140 CHAPTER VIII [840 

problem reduced to its narrowest form ; and I shall set forth, as barely 
possible, a theory which Professor Flournoy has not invoked. I agree 
with him that the notion of the truth of the Indian romance must be quite 
dismissed. But I do not therefore think it certain that Smith must 
have unconsciously seen de Marlas’ history and a Sanscrit grammar, since 
it seems to me just possible that the knowledge of de Marlas and of 
Sanscrit may have been clairvoyantly acquired by her subliminal self. 

Further, it has sometimes been alleged that discarnate spirits may 
be concerned in the composition of such romances, on the hypothesis 
that if they do act upon human minds, they probably so act sometimes to 
amuse themselves, as well as to please or inform us, I know of no evidence, 
indeed, of their having any power to injure us, but it is thought by some 
that there is a good deal of evidence of tricky, playful interference, and 
that a kind of literary impulse to write or act out romances, through the 
intermediacy of some human being, may be one form of this mystifying 
intervention. There is, however, no need to postulate the existence of 
tricky spirits when the phenomena can be adequately accounted for by the 
known tendencies of the subliminal self, as exemplified in such cases as 
the ^'Clelia” and Newnham writings (830 A and 849 A), and Sally 
Beauchamp (234 A). 

840. I pass on from these reincarnational romances to certain 
minor, but interesting phenomena, which Professor Flournoy calls teleolo’^ 
gical automatisms. These are small acts of helpfulness — beneficent synergies, 
as we might term them, in contrast with the injurious synergies, or com- 
bined groups of hurtful actions, with which hysteria has made us familiar. 
We have already printed several incidents of this type in our Proceedings 
and Journal, (See, for instance, the trivial but instructive case of Mrs. 
Verrall and the envelopes, given in 818 A.) ^ 

‘'One day,” says Professor Flournoy (p. 55 ), “Miss Smith, when 
desiring to lift down a large and heavy object which lay on a high shelf, 
was prevented from doing so because her raised arm remained for some 
seconds as though petrified in the air and incapable of movement. She 
took this as a warning, and gave up the attempt. At a subsequent stance 
Leopold stated that it was he who had thus fixed H^16ne^s arm to prevent 
her from grasping this object, which was much too heavy for her, and 
would have caused her some accident. 

“ Another time, a shopman, who had been looking in vain for a certain 
pattern, asked Helene if by chance she knew what had become of it. 
H^l^ne answered mechanically and without reflection — ‘ Yes, it has been 
sent to Mr. J.* (a client of the house). At the same time she saw before, 
her the number i 8 in large black figures a few feet from the ground, and 
added instinctively, ‘ It was sent eighteen days ago.' [This was in the 
highest degree improbable, but was found to be absolutely correct.] liCO- 
pold had no recollection of this, and does not seem to have been the 
author of this cryptomnesic automatism.” 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


841 ] 


141 


A similar phenomenon has also been noted (p. 87) when warning is 
conveyed by an actual phantasmal figure. 

Smith has seen an apparition of Leopold, barring a particular 
road, under circumstances which make it probable that Smith would 
on that day have had cause to regret taking that route. (Compare the 
case of an apparition seen by a lady near an open lift, referred to at the 
end of 823 ; and the warning to Socrates to change his route, see 814 .) 

841 . The next question is as to whether supernormal faculty of any 
kind is manifested in H^l^ne’s phenomena. There does appear to be 
some telepathy (see p, 363, &c.), and of telepathy Professor Flournoy 
speaks as follows: — 

^'One may almost say that, if telepathy did not exist, it would be 
necessary to invent it. I mean by this that a direct action between living 
beings, independently of the organs of sense, is a thing so in accord with 
all that we know of nature that it would be difficult not to assume its 
existence a priori^ even were no sign of it perceptible. How could one 
believe, indeed, that centres of chemical phenomena so complex as the 
nervous centres could find themselves in activity without transmitting 
various undulations — ^X, Y, or Z rays — passing through the skull as the 
sun passes through glass, and going on to act, at any distance, on their 
homologues in other skulls? It is a mere question of . . . 

If telepathy is considered strange, mystic, occult, supernormal, &c., 
it is because this character has been gratuitously conferred on it by making 
of this imponderable link between organisms a purely spiritual communica- 
tion of soul to soul, independent of matter and of space. That such a 
metaphysical union does exist I am ready to believe, but it is to introduce 
a gratuitous confusion if one substitutes this problem of high speculation 
— which abandons the strictly scientific ground and sets aside the principle 
of psycho-physical parallelism — for the empirical problem of telepathy, 
which is perfectly concordant with that parallelism and in no way contra- 
dicts established science.” 

Now, of course, it has been obvious from the outset of our researches 
that it would be very desirable if we could trace some relation between 
telepathy and ether vibrations. There are doubtless endless vibrations 
waiting to be intelligibly appropriated ; — and telepathy is a phenomenon 
greatly in need of an explanation. The more complex any object is, 
moreover, the more strangely it will vibrate ; and the more sensitive any 
object is, the more strangely will it receive and respond to vibrations. 

Nevertheless, when we have said this — as Sir W. Crookes has said it 
with great impressiveness (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. pp. 348-352) — 
we have said nearly all that can be said for the vibration-theory of 
telepathy. In Chapter VL (pp. 245-246), I have attempted to show the 
inadequacy of this theory to cover the facts, and have suggested that 
telepathic observations may in time teach us something of the relation of 
life to the organism. 



142 


CHAPTER VIII 


[842 

842. Most instructive of all will it be if we can obtain telepathy from 
discamate spirits, and especially if we can get any glimpse of a rela- 
tion between their mode of being and the cosmic ether. On this point 
Professor Flournoy writes as follows (p. 394) : 

It is obvious that the hypothesis of spirits involves no a priori im- 
possibility or absurdity. It does not even contradict, as is sometimes 
supposed, that fundamental law of physiological psychology — the psycho- 
physical parallelism — which insists that every mental phenomenon must 
have a physical correlative. For in spite of our habit of considering the 
molecular or atomic phenomena of the brain, the catabolism of the 
neurones, as the true concomitant of the conscious processes, it is quite 
possible — it is even probable enough — that these molecular movements do 
not constitute the ultimate physical term immediately adjoining the mental 
world (cdtoyantle monde menial), but that the true physical or spatial corre- 
latives of psychological or non-spatial phenomena ought to be sought in 
the vibrations of that imponderable matter, the ether, in which ponderable 
atoms and molecules are plunged somewhat after the fashion of grains of 
dust in the atmosphere.’* 

I quote these words because, — obvious though their contention must 
seem to all thinking persons, — ^it is common enough to see phrases used 
as though our notions were still bounded by the molecular ; — as though we 
did not know, as certainly as we know anything, that the great mystery of 
existence is only just beginning, in that inconceivable world of ether, pre- 
cisely where our utmost analysis fails us, and our mathematics are reduced 
to a jungle of infinities and of contradictions. 

And now as to the question of possible telepathy from the dead in 
Helene’s case. The instance with most in its favour is described by 
Professor Flournoy as follows (p. 406) ; — 


In a sitting at my house (February 12th, 1899) Smith has a vision of 
a village on a height covered with vines ; she sees a small old man coming 
down thence by a stony road. He looks like a “ demi-monsieur ; — buckled 
shoes, large soft hat, shirt-collar unstarched, with points rising to bis cheeks, 
&c. A peasant in a blouse whom he meets bows to him as to a personage of 
importance; they talk a patois which Hdl^ne cannot follow. She has an 
impression that she knows the village ; but she cannot identify it. Soon the 
landscape disappears, and the old man, now clothed in white and seen in a 
luminous space [implying that he is in the next world] seems to come nearer. 
At this moment, as she sits with her right arm resting on the table, Leopold 
dictates with the forefinger, Lower her arm. I obey ; Hdl^ne’s arm at first 
resists strongly ; then yields at once. She seizes a pencil, and during the 
usual struggle as to the way to hold it \i.e., whether in her own habitual 
fashion — between forefinger and middle finger — or in the ordinary way], 
“You are squeezing my hand too hard ! ” she cries to the imagined little old 
man who, according to Leopold, wishes to write through her ; — “ You hurt me ; 
don*t press so hard; what can it matter to you whether it is a pencil or a 
pen?'* Then she drops the pencil and takes a pen, and holding it between 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


143 


842 ] 

thumb and forefinger writes slowly in an unknown handwriting, Chaumontet 
syndic. Then returns the vision of the village ; — we wish to know its name ; 
and she ends by perceiving a guide-post on which she spells out Chessenas — 
a name unknown to us. Finally having, at my desire, asked the old man 
the date when he was syndic, she hears him answer, 1839. Nothing more 
can be learnt ; the vision disappears and gives place to a possession by 
Leopold, who in his big Italian voice talks at length about various matters. I 
question him on the incident of the unknown village and syndic ; his answers, 
interrupted by long digressions, are to this effect: “I am looking— I turn 
my thoughts along that great mountain with a tunnel in it whose name I do 
not know [Leopold — the soi-disant Cagliostro — ^who returns from the eighteenth 
century, is naturally not well up in modern geographical names; but this 
is the hill of Fort de I’Ecluse]; I see the name of Chessenaz — a village on a 
height — a road leading up to it. Look in that village ; you will find the 
name [Chaumontet] : try to verify the signature ; you will get a proof that 
the signature is really that of this man.” 

I ask him whether he sees all this in Hdl^ne’s memories — — or 
whether she has ever been at Chessenaz : — “ Ask her ; she will know ; I have 
not followed her in all her excursions.” 

H^l^ne, when awake, could give no information. But next day I found 
on the map a little village of Chessenaz in the department of Haute-Savoie, 
at twenty-six kilometres from Geneva. . . . 

[A fortnight later Helen sees the vision of the other day reappear— the 
village, the little old man ; — ^but accompanied by a curi^ who seems intimate 
with him, and whom he calls “ my dear friend Bournier.” Leopold promises 
that this curi will write his name for Helen.] 

At the next sitting in my house, March 19th, I remind Leopold of this 
promise. . . . The curi at last takes her hand as the syndic had done 
and writes very slowly the words Bumier salut . . . 

I wrote to the Mairie at Chessenaz, and the Mayor, M. Saunier, was good 
enough to answer me at once. During the years 1838 and 1839,” he said, “ the 
syndic of Chessenaz was Jean Chaumontet, whose signature I find in various 
documents of that date. We had also for curi M. Andrd Bumier, from 
November 1824 to February 1841, during which period all the actes des 
naissances, &c., bear his signature. But I have found in our archives a 
document with both signatures, which J send you.” 

[Reproductions are given (p. 409) of the actual signatures, and of the signa- 
tures given by M“® Smith. The handwritings were markedly similar.] 

Professor Flournoy’s first idea naturally was that Smith had seen 
at some time or other some acts or documents signed by the syndic or the 
of Chessenaz, and that these visual impressions had reappeared in her 
somnambulic state, and had served as internal models for the signatures 
which she traced in trance. She informed him, in fact, that she had 
relations in the neighbourhood, with whom she had stayed some dozen 
years earlier, but she had no recollection of having ever seen or heard of 
Chessenaz, or of the two names given in her trance. Both names are, 
however, not uncommon in that region, and it seems possible that during 
her visit her friends may have shown her some family document bearing 



CHAPTER VIII 


144 


[843 


the signatures, which — we must assume — (for her probity is beyond 
question) had faded from her supraliminal memory.^ 

843. This case of Professor Flournoy’s, then — this classical case, as 
it may already be fairly termed — may serve here as our culminant example 
of the free scope and dominant activity of the unassisted subliminal self. 
The telepathic element in this case, if it exists, is relatively small ; what we 
are watching in H616ne Smith resembles, as I have said, a kind of 
exaggeration of the submerged constructive faculty, — a hypertrophy of 
genius — without the innate originality of mind which made even the 
dreams of R. L. Stevenson a source of pleasure to thousands of readers. 

In reference to the main purpose of this work, such cases as these, 
however curious, can be only introductory to automatisms of deeper 
moment. In our attempt to trace an evolutive series of phenomena 
indicating ever higher human faculty, the smallest telepathic incident, — 
the most trivial proof, if proof it be, of communication received without 
sensory intermediation from either an incarnate or a discarnate mind, 
outweighs in importance the most complex ramifications and burgeonings 
of the automatist’s own submerged intelligence. 

I pass on, then, to evidence which points, through motor automatisms, 
to supernormal faculty ; and I shall begin by citing in 843 A and B certain 
experiments (due to Professor Richet and to Mr. G. M. Smith) in the 
simplest of all forms of motor automatism, viz., table-tilting, with results 
which only telepathy can explain. It will be seen that these experiments 
are closely parallel to our simplest sensory experiments in telepathy, as 
recorded in Chapter VL And it may be remembered that the trans- 
ferences of diagrams there described sometimes contained a motor as 
well as a visual element the percipient not only discerning a mind's 
eye ” picture of the diagram, but also feeling an impulse to draw it. 

Experiments like these should be repeated as often as possible. 
Trivial though they seem, they may with a little care be made absolutely 
conclusive. Had Professor Richet’s friends, for example, been willing to 
prolong this series, we might have had a standing demonstration of tele- 
pathy, reproducible at will. 

844. I pass on to some experiments with Planchette, in which an 
element of telepathy was shown. The account came from Mrs. Alfred 
Moberly, Tynwald, Hythe, Kent, and was corroborated, with some addi- 
tional examples, by two other ladies present at the time. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R,, vol. ii. p. 235.) 

May <yth^ 1884. 

The operators were placed out of sight of the rest of the company, who 
selected — in silence— a photograph, one of an albumful, and fixed their 
attention on it. We — the operators — were requested to keep our minds a 
blank as far as possible and follow the first involuntary motion of the 

1 Further considerations supporting this view are given in NouvelUs Observations^ 
pp. 232-237. — ^Editors. 



MOTOR ATUOMATISM 


145 


845] 

Planchette. In three out of five cases it wrote the name or initial or some 
word descriptive of the selected portrait. We also obtained the signatures 
to letters selected in the same manner. We both knew perfectly well tliat 
we were writing — not the spirits, as the rest of the company persist to this 
day in believing — ^but had only the slightest idea what the words might 
prove to be. 

We have tried it since, and generally with some curious result. A 
crucial test was offered by two gentlemen in the form of a question to 
which we couldn’t possibly guess the answer. “ Where’s Toosey } ” The 
answer came, “ In Vauxhall Road.” “ Toosey,” they explained, was a pet 
terrier who had disappeared; suspicion attaching to a plumber living in the 
road mentioned, who had been working at the house and whose departure 
coincided with Toosey’s. 

Of course, in the case of the inquiry after the lost dog, we may sup- 
pose that the answer given came from the questioner’s own mind. Mrs. 
Moberly and her friends seem to have been quite aware of this; and 
were little likely to fall into the not uncommon error of asking Planchette, 
for instance, what horse will win the Derby, and staking, perhaps, some 
pecuniary consideration on the extremely illusory reply. 

845. In the next case there is an apparent element of prophecy; and 
I quote it in order to show how fallacious this appearance is, and how easily 
an ordinary mental anticipation of the future, if it in any way becomes 
externalised, may look like a revelation. Miss Summerbell is well known 
to me as a careful observer. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 2 .) 

I have used Planchette a great deal, but the result has generally been 
nonsense ; but I remembered two occasions when it correctly interpreted the 
thought of some one in the room, whose hands were not upon it. About a year 
ago, we were amusing ourselves by asking it what Christmas presents we should 
have. My hands were upon Planchette, and I believe Miss Lay’s, but in any 
case it is quite certain that neither of the persons who were touching it could 
possibly know the answer to the question I asked. I said, What will Miss T. 
have at Christmas ? ” Miss T. was in the room, but not near the table. Plan- 
chette immediately wrote down a rather large sum of money. I asked, “ Who 
is to give it? ” It wrote “B. and one other.” , Some weeks afterwards I met 
Miss T., who asked me if I remembered what Planchette had written. I re^ 
membered it perfectly. She said, ‘‘ I have received more than that sum, but I 
knew about it at the time, though not the exact sum, and I believe that must 
have been thought-reading, for I am certain that nobody in the room knew of 
it but myself.” The money was given by a relative whose surname begins with 
B., and another person. 

On another occasion, we asked a friend to dictate a question, the answer 
to which we did not know. She said, “Who is coming to breakfast to- 
morrow ? ” Miss Lay and I placed our hands upon Planchette and asked the 
question. It wrote “ Lucas.” Our friend said that was the name of the gentle- 
man who was coming to breakfast. Neither Miss Lay nor I had ever heard 
of him before. Our friend said, “Ask his Christian name.” We asked; it 
wrote “William.” “ Is that right?” we asked our friend. “I don’t know,” 
VOL. n. K 



146 


CHAPTER VIII 


[846 

she answered ; ** I never heard his Christian name.” Then somebody else, 
who was not touching Planchette, remembered that there was a song by him 
somewhere among the music. We looked, and at length found the song by 
“ William Lucas ” — of whom we had never heard before, nor have we heard of 
him since. L. D. Summerbell. 

I can thoroughly endorse these statements, and could multiply instances 
equally curious. — ^J. M. Lay. 

The prophecy of the Christmas gift was doubtless a mere reflection of 
Miss T.’s anticipation — transferred telepathically to the writer’s subliminal 
self, and as regards the Christian name William,” we may assume that 
(as in the case of the word Wem in a previous narrative) the name printed 
on the song, although no one consciously remembered it, had been vaguely 
noticed by Mr. Lucas’ friend at some previous time, and now reappeared 
from the stores of unconscious memory. 

846. In another case, Mr. Allbright, of Mariemont, Birmingham, 
a chemical manufacturer (whose letter to me I abbreviate here), asked 
a young lady, of whose complete ignorance of the facts of his business 
he felt quite sure, for the name of a waste product occurring on a large 
scale in his manufactory. He meant the answer to be “ gypsum,” but 
chloride of calcium ” was written, and this was also true ; although, 
had he thought of this substance, he would have thought of it by its trade 
name of muriate of lime.” Again, he asked what was his firm’s port of 
importation. He meant the answer to be Gloucester,” but “ Wales ” 
was written; and this again was true at the time, as he was just then 
importing through Cardiff. These answers startled him so disagreeably 
that he refused to make further experiments. But I cite the case here for 
the express purpose of pointing out that no insuperable difficulty is pre- 
sented by the fact that the answers, while substantially known to the 
inquirer, were not those on which his supraliminal mind was fixed. 

847. In my next case an answer is given which is in fact true, 
although the questioner believed it at the time to be false. The account, 
which I quote from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 5 , came from Mr, W. 
Riddell of Dunster, Somerset. 

July 1884, 

The way I became acquainted with “ Planchette ” was as follows : — A 
friend of my wife’s is staying with us, and one day she was talking about 
“ Planchette,” and saying that she had one at her home, in London, and had 
seen some remarkable answers given by it when a certain young lady had 
her hands on it. Both ray wife and I laughed at the idea, saying nothing 
would make us believe in it. Miss B. (my wife’s friend), to prove herself 
right, sent for her Planchette.” In the course of a day or two it arrived, and 
having put it together Miss B. and I tried it, but without any result beyond 
a few lines up and down the paper. Then my wife put her hands on it with 
Miss B., and in a very short time it began to move, and on being asked 
answered questions ‘very freely, some rightly and some quite wrongly. 
Amongst those answered rightly were the following. (I may here observe that 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


849 ] 


147 


not only did my wife and myself not believe in it, but we were antagonistic to 
it in feeling.) Our first question was asked by myself, my wife and Miss B. 
having their hands on it. I said, “ How many shillings has Miss B» in her 
purse?” Ans. — “Four”; right. I then asked how many coins I had in 
mine. Ans. — “ Five ” ; right. I thought I had many more. I then took 
a playing card from a pack in a box, looked at it, put it face down on a 
table, and asked for its colour. Ans. — “ Red ” ; right. Number — “ Seven ” ; 
right. Name — “Hearts”; right. This, I must confess, seemed to me very- 
wonderful, as neither my wife nor Miss B. could possibly have known any- 
thing about the card. I then took a visiting card from the bottom of the 
basket, and having looked at it, placed it face downwards on the table, and 
asked “ Planchette ” for the name on it. This it seemed quite unable to give, 
but after a long time it wrote “ clergyman,” which was a wonderful answer, as 

the card was that of a Rev. who was here two winters ago, helping our 

rector. After this we did not get anything more satisfactory. 


Now, here, as no complete list of the answers has been preserved, we 
cannot feel sure that the answer ''five,” as to the number of coins in 
Mr. Riddell’s pocket, may not have been right by mere accident. But my 
point is that, even excluding the idea of mere chance coincidence, there 
is still nothing in the answer which obliges us to go beyond Mr. Riddell’s 
own mind. His subliminal self may well have been aware of the number 
of coins in his pocket, although his supraliminal self was not. 

848 . These few cases may suffice to lead us up to the palmary case 
of the late Rev. P. H. Newnham, Vicar of Maker, Devonport, who was 
personally known to Edmund Gurney and myself, and was a man in all 
ways worthy of high respect. The long series of communications between 
Mr. Newnham and his wife, which date back to 1871, and whose con- 
temporaneous written record is preserved in the archives of the S.P.R., 
must, I think, always retain their primacy as early and trustworthy 
examples of a telepathic transference where the percipient’s automatic 
script answers questions penned by the agent in such a position that the 
percipient could not in any normal manner discern what those questions 
were. No part of our evidence seems to me more worthy of study 
than this. Mr. Newnham had for many years paid careful attention to 
psychical phenomena, and especially had been conscious of a frequent 
involuntary transmission of thought from himself to Mrs. Newnham. An 
instance of "psychical-invasion” in sleep when Mrs. Newnham discerned 
his presence is quoted in C. This occurred before their marriage. 

849 . Subsequently, Mr. Newnham made many attempts to transmit 
thought voluntarily to his wife, but succeeded only in the year 1871, 
during a period of about eight months. 

During that period he made notes from day to day in a private diary, 
which diary he was good enough to place in my hands in 1884, There 
are 40 pages of MS. notes, containing 385 automatically- written replies to 
questions. Mr. Newnham made the experiments purely for his own 
satisfaction, and without any idea of submitting them to public inspection, 



CHAPTER VIII 


148 


[850 


and consequently the questions include many references to his domestic 
affairs at the time, to family jokes, and to other matters which, while illus- 
trating the intimate and spontaneous character of the diary, are not suited 
for publication. Mr. Newnham, however, kindly made long extracts for 
me, some of which I print in 849 A. I carefully compared the extracts 
with the original diary, and consider that they give a quite fair impression 
of it. Mrs. Newnham independently corroborated her husband’s account,^ 
and I also talked the matter over with both of them. 

It must be distinctly understood that Mrs. Newnham did not see or 
hear the questions which Mr. Newnham wrote down. The fact, therefore, 
that her answers bore any relation to the questions shows that the sense of 
the questions was telepathically conveyed to her. This is the leading and 
important fact. The substance of the replies written is also interesting, 
and Mr. Newnham has some good comments thereon. But even had the 
replies contained no facts which Mrs. Newnham could not have known, 
this would not detract from the main value of the evidence, which consists 
in the fact that Mrs, Newnham^ s hand wrote replies clearly and repeatedly 
answering questions which she neither heard nor saw, 

850. I give in 850 A a series of experiments on a smaller scale, 
but analogous to those of Mr. and Mrs. Newnham. 

851. In the Newnham case we have the advantage of seeing before 
us the entire series of questions and answers, and thus of satisfying our- 
selves that the misses (which in that case are very few) are marked as well 
as the hits, and consequently that the coincidences between question and 
answer are at any rate not the result of chance. In several other cases 
which I have known, where the good faith of the informants has been 
equally above question, the possibility of an explanation by chance alone 
has been a more important element in the problem. All our evidence 


1 Mr. Newnham procured for me two autograph letters from eye-witnesses of 
some of the experiments, who do not, however, wish their names to be published, on 
account of prejudices still existing in certain quarters against the experiments as involv- 
ing questionable agency. One writer says: ‘*You wrote the question on a slip of 
paper and put it under one of the ornaments of the chimney-piece— -no one seeing what 
you had written. Mrs. Newnham sat apart at a small table. I recollect you kept a 
book of the questions asked and answers given, as you thought some new power might 
be discovered, and you read me from it some of the results. I remember particularly 
questions and answers relating to the selection of a curate for B. My wife and her sister 
saw experiments conducted in this manner. Mrs. Newnham and you were sitting at 

different tables.^' Another eye-witness writes : I and my sister were staying at , 

and were present at many of the Blanchette experiments of Mr. and Mrs. Newnham. 
Mr. and Mrs. Newnham sat at different tables some distance apart, and in such a position 
that it was quite impossible Mrs. Newnham could see what question was written down. 
The subject of the questions was never mentioned even in a whisper. Mr, Newnham 
wrote them down in pencil and sometimes passed them to me and my sister to see, but 
not often. Mrs. Newnham immediately answered the questions. Though not always 
correct, they (the answers) always referred to the questions. Mr. Newnham copied out 
the pencil questions and answers verbatim each day into a diary.” 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


149 


852 ] 

has tended to show that the telepathic power itself is a variable thing ; 
that it shows itself in flashes, for the most part spontaneously, and seldom 
persists through a series of deliberate experiments. And if an automatist 
possessing power of this uncertain kind has exercised it at irregular 
moments and with no scientific aim ; — and has kept, moreover, no steady 
record of success and failure ; — then it becomes difficult to say that even 
some brilliant coincidences afford cogent proof of telepathic action. The 
case which is next cited (in 851 A) presents these drawbacks; but 
it presents also positive points of interest and corroborations of memory 
quite sufficient, I think, to justify me in laying it before my readers as an 
example of telepathy acting — not just in the way in which we should like 
it to act, but in the way in which it apparently does act ; — and with that 
strange intercurrence, moreover, which we so often find of something like 
clairvoyance and premonition mingling with the reflection of thoughts 
which pass through minds in rapport with the automatist’s. But I quote 
the case as one where telepathy from the living seems to play at least a 
considerable part in supplying the contents of the messages. 

852 . I pass on to a case where an actual conversation goes on 
between the distant agent and the automatist, informing the automatist 
of matters which the agent — supraliminally or subliminally — ^wishes him to 
know. Evidentially it is not strong, for it depends upon a single memory, 
corroborated on one collateral point alone (although not invalidated upon 
any point) ; and the writer was not personally known to any of us. The 
date is also very remote. On the other hand, the reasons for the absence 
of corroboration seem satisfactory ; and in my view at least the narrative 
offers internal evidence of honesty and care, while the incident is such as 
might stamp itself permanently on the mind. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 48.) 

Mrs. Kirby wrote to me from Santa Cruz, California, August 13th, 1886, 
as follows : — 

In 1850 1 left New York for San Francisco. Spiritualism, in the sense in 
which that word is now used, had no existence. The facts and philosophy it 
covers were unknown, except partially to the very few readers of Swedenborg’s 
cumbrous and involved theology. 

Attention had been called to some rappings which had made themselves 
heard in a house in Rochester, N. Y., and there had been some violent 
demonstrations (breaking of windows, moving of furniture, and unlocking of 
locked drawers and doors) in the house of an orthodox clergyman somewhere 
in Connecticut. 

In 1853 I was living on a ranche three miles from what is now the city 
of Santa Cruz. (It was but a village then, though they called it a town.) My 
family consisted of my husband, myself, and, in a certain sense, of a young 
English sailor, a healthy, kind-hearted, and very decent, though very ignorant 
fellow, whom my husband had employed to work on the ranche during the 
previous year. His name was Thomas Travers, and he had just made his 
mark (x) to a written agreement for another year’s service. As it will be seen. 



CHAPTER VIII 


150 


[852 


I had no servant, but Tom stood ready to help me in any way he could. For 
instance, when, at intervals of weeks, visitors would make their appearance, he 
would immediately kill and clean some chickens for me. (If you wanted 
beef “Steak in those days you could only have it by killing an ox. The nearest 
neighbours sometimes combined and took a quarter each.) 

On one occasion the two most intelligent men in town came out, a Dr. 
McLean and the Rev. — Dryden, and they presently asked me if I had a small 
table I could let them have (while I was busy, and my husband a mile off at his 
tannery), with which they could continue some strange experiments that had 
lately been made among our mutual friends in town. Spirits tipped the table, 
and they said sentences were spelled by the use of the alphabet. That A’s and 
B’s had in this way heard of their long since departed children, &c., &c. 

I listened eagerly. I had left a large circle of friends at the East, and here 
was not one of the old kind : Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Garrison, Purvis. A 
view of the entire bay of Monterey from my sitting-room window did not pre- 
vent me from longing continually for a little of the old sympathy. One of my 
most devoted friends had a few years since passed to the other shore ; my 
young brother was there too. If I could establish commimication with them, 
what a relief, what a pleasure it would be to me ! 

My smallest table was in size 3^ ft. by i J ft. My husband was willing to 
test the matter, and as we were given to understand that three or four persons 
together would be more likely to succeed than two (since magnetism or elec- 
tricity was drawn from them by the invisibles to help in accomplishing their 
object), Mr. K. went out to Tom’s shanty and asked him to come and sit at the 
table with us. 

We had not held our hands one moment on the table before it tipped very 
decidedly, and I forthwith proceeded to repeat the alphabet. The doing so, 
however, struck me as worse than ridiculous ; it was very unpleasant, too, and 
I observed that if spirits were present they could hear me say the letters in my 
mind as well as if they were uttered from my tongue. 

All right. Go ahead ! ” my husband replied, “ we will sit and wait for 
results.” 

I did so, and the table tipped promptly to the letters, spelling out— 

Mary Howells.” 

As I knew no such person, I asked if she was a friend of Mr. K.’s ? 
Answer; “No.” Of Tom's ? Answer: “Yes.” A relation of his ? Answer: 
“Sister.” Are you married ? I questioned. Answer: “No.” 

“ Oh, don’t let us waste any more time ! ” I exclaimed. “It's all falsehood 
and nonsense. Here is some one professing to be Tom’s sister who says her 
name is Mary Howells, and that she is unmarried. If this were true, of course 
her name would be Travers.” 

Tom nodded aside to me and said in a low tone — 

“ Yes, mum. That’s her name. Mary Howells.” 

He looked extremely confused and astonished. 

“ Why, what do you mean ? ” Mr. K. broke in ; “ your name is Travers, how 
can hers be Howells ? ” 

“ No, sir,” Tom replied, looking down, “ my name is Howells.” 

But Mr. K. insisted that it could not be. Had he not made his mark after 
the Travers only the other day ? Five minutes were taken up in the attempt to 
convince Tom that he did not know his own name. 



852] 


MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


I5X 

“ You see, sir,^* he at length explained, I ran away from a whale ship in 
San Francisco, and sailors is so scarce there I was afraid they would hunt me 
up and take me back, so I just took another name.” 

Hardly convinced now, Mr. K. advised him to drop the alias at once, 
assuring him that no one would molest him. This he did, and the second year 
following married, and he is now the father of twelve girls and three boys who 
bear the strangely discovered name. 

But to return. Finding that the communication had been so far correct, I 
proposed that we should compose ourselves while I repeated the alphabet as 
before, still hoping to receive the name of my dear friend. But Tom’s sister 
had not accomplished her purpose, and she proceeded to spell the following 
words 

“ I — have — a , — child — a~girl. — She — is — seven— years — old — and — now — 
is — in — a — house — of — ill — fame — in — Cat — Street. — I— want — my — ^brother — 
to— bring — her— away—from — there.” 

This was a difScult and painful message to convey, and I told Tom that I 
did not like to tell him what was spelt. 

She says that she has a little girl seven years old,” I began. 

Here he removed his hands quickly from the table, and counting on the 
fingers of one hand by those of the other, looked up and observed:— 

** Yes, mum, that’s so. She’s seven now.” 

When I gave him the rest of the message he became much excited, and 
begged me to assure his sister that he would send home 50 dols. the next month, 
and have the child removed to a better place, and that as soon as the crops 
were in he would go home and get the child. 

I assured him she could hear all he was saying. 

“ But is it true that there is a street called Cat Street ? ” I asked. 

“Yes, mum; and it is the worst in the city,” he returned. 

The following day he acknowledged to me that his sister was a woman of 
the town. 

I now asked my husband to procure me a smaller and lighter table so that 
I might sit at it by myself, and in that way be more likely to attract my own 
friends. This he did, but to my great annoyance, Maty Howells immediately 
presented herself. This time, however, she came to say that her child was ill. 
When she left the movements of the table were weak and uncertain. 

The following evening, she came to say that the child was much worse, 
and she thought it would die. A day or two later she reported it dead. I 
asked if the child were now with her, and she replied by very decided move- 
ments, that she ‘zt/as not 

After this, Maiy Howells never put in an appearance, and every day I 
prayed that some one I loved might speak a word to me- They did not. 1 
know now that they could not, for want of the honest sailor^'s electrical help, 
which I rejected in my ignorance. Seafaring persons are apt to possess great 
mediumistic power. 

After hearing that the child was dead I wrote a guarded letter to Tom’s 
parents, for him, asking how they all were, including the little girl. In due 
time I received a reply, or, I should say, Tom did, though he could not read 
writing. They said they were all well except Mary’s little girl, who had died. 
(They did not say exactly when, bui as Tom had not been absent from England 
much over a year, it must have been within that time, and we had every reason 



CHAPTER VIII 


152 


[852 


to believe the mother’s statement a true one.) The old people further said that 
Mary had married a soldier, 

I understood from this that the child’s mother was not wholly depraved, 
that she was concerned about the welfare of her little one, and looking about for 
help in her destitute circumstances her thoughts had turned to her brother, 
most likely persistently turned to him, and this resulted in her leaving her body 
temporarily during sleep in search of him. We had assumed that she was, as 
we say, “ dead.” She had not asserted the fact. 

I submit this one experience and will write out another as soon as I can. — 
Very truly yours, Georgiana B, Kirby. 

A second letter from Mrs. Kirby, dated Santa Cruz, Cal., October 
1 2th, 1886, gave further particulars as follows : — 

Dear Sir, — Yours of September 9th arrived in due season. My reply 
has been delayed by my ineffectual efforts to ascertain the month when our two 
friends, McLean and Dr^’den, visited us on the ranche, because it was within a 
month after tliis that Mary Howells told me her child was ill, and later that she 
was dead, and I thought it might not be so difficult to search the death record 
of 07 ie month for the child under the head of “ Howells.” As it is the gentlemen 
have proved to me that their visit occurred in 1852, and not in 1853 as I ^ 2 -^ 
supposed, but they could not remember if it were the spring or fall of that year. 
This, our ignorance of the date of the death and of the child’s Christian name, 
is the most unsatisfactory part of my record. Neither were mentioned in the 
grandfather’s letter, and from Tom never mentioning the name I fancied he did 
not know it. I saw him recently, but I could not venture to speak to him 
of his sister’s illegitimate child. He has twelve living daughters of his own, 
and he would be justly offended if I should remind him of how we had 
gained a knowledge of his sister’s life. He told us that his father was still 
alive and living where they always had lived, at Saltash, which he thought 
by this time must be a part of Plymouth. 

I should explain that neither Dr. McLean nor the Rev. — Dryden were 
personally cognisant of our doings, so that they could not act as witnesses in 
the case. 

You ask if I can point you to any contemporary record. Thirty-four years 
ago no Spiritualistic paper was published in the United States, and such a 
narration given as true in any ordinary journal would have laid us open to the 
charge of lunacy. And had this been otherwise, we could not have proclaimed 
the fact that the sister of the honest fellow who was working for us was a 
disreputable woman. 

As to fraud on Tom’s part, he could hardly understand why we wanted 
him to sit with his hands on the table. I repeated the letters in my mind. 
How could he tip the table at the right instant so as to spell words which dis- 
closed his sister’s disgrace.^ Then he was in no want of money. He had been 
earning 60 dols. a month (and had spent it all, mostly at Spanish fandangos) ; 
and the agreement with my husband, to which he had lately placed his x, 
bound him to work for Mr. K. for one year for the sum of 60 dols. a month and 
his board and lodging. You, sir, must have read something about the high 
price of labour in California in those early years of its settlement. 

The sittings were held after supper (or dinner, you would call it), between 
seven and nine o’clock. 



853] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 153 

Cat Street was in Plymouth, England. If it has given place to another the 
fact of its former existence could be verified. Georgian A B. Kirby. 

The actual existence of the Cat Street of the narrative is shown by 
the following letter : — 

Post Office, Plymouth, January 1888 . 

Sir, — In reply to yours of the 21 st instant, I beg to inform you that a few 
years ago there was a street named Catte Street, but it is now called Stillman 
Street. — I am, sir, yours obediently, 

R. A. Leverton (for Postmaster). 

The regretted death of Mrs. Kirby soon after the date of her last letter 
put an end to this correspondence. 

It will be observed that the communications from the woman at Ply- 
mouth were received at an hour which, in England, fell in the middle of 
the night. 

With Mrs. Kirby’s case we may compare an old, but carefully evi- 
denced, record which I give in 852 A. 

In that case a warning was received by table- tilting of the approaching 
death of a man who (although the experimenter did not know it) was 
lying in a state of opium-stupor. The circumstances of his last illness had 
previously been predicted by a crystal-vision. It is, of course, conceivable 
that, if indeed it was the sick man’s own spirit which gave the message 
through the table, his own spirit also may have inspired the crystal-vision. 
Compare with this case the incident described by Mr. Underwood 
(865 A) where Mrs. Underwood’s left hand wrote in mirror- writing ” 
the name of a person two hundred miles off, who was, as was subsequently 
learnt, ‘‘ in an unconscious state at the time, and near death, which 
occurred two or three days afterwards.” There have been some scattered 
indications, throughout our evidence of automatisms, of a possible pre- 
monitory knowledge, or guardian care, possessed and exercised by a man’s 
own deeper self, without external spiritual intervention. 

I add in 852 B the case of Signor Bonatti, where, again, some of the 
communications through automatic writing are given as coming from 
living persons, though the usual communicator frankly styles itself 
Secondo,” as being no more than the automatist’s secondary personality. 

853, I pass on to a small group of cases which form a curious 
transition from these communications inter vivos to communications 
which I shall class as coming from the dead. These are cases where the 
message professes to come from a deceased person, but shows internal 
evidence of having come, telepathically, from the mind of some one 
present. I shall begin with a case such as is often cited as proof 
(insufficient proof, I think) that a deceased person is communicating. 

Our informant, Mr. Lewis, a man of business in Cincinnati, states that 
an automatist to whom his (Mr. Lewis’s) family were absolutely unknown 
wrote a message, with true name, purporting to come from an infant sister 



154 CHAPTER VIII [854 

long deceased. Mr. Lewis, naturally enough, accepts this message, as 
similar messages have often been accepted, as an indication of his sister’s 
actual presence. 

The account is quoted from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 64. 

From Mr. S. Lewis, 347 Baymiller Avenue, Cincinnati. 

April gthf 1888. 

On January 28th last I called at the house of some friends ; and on this 
occasion there was some planch ette writing. The friends I called on, 1 believe, 
are professed Spiritualists. Some four or five of us (I also did) sat around a 
table in a full and well-lighted room (lighted the entire evening). The operator 
of the planchette was a lady; her husband was at the table, also three other 
friends, including myself. Different communications (so called) were received 
by different ones at the table, from different friends (as the Spiritualists say), 
who have passed into the spirit world. I can’t give all communications to-day, 
but one I wish to state. But first let me say that many years since in my 
father’s family the first little one that came to live — a short time — with them 
was a little girl, named Angeline; she lived only about two years and died; 
next to this little girl was a brother, named Charles (in after life a clergyman 
in the Episcopal Church) ; and next to Charles was another little sister also 
named Angeline, and next to her was another sister named B. Ann; then next 
to B. Ann appeared, well, your humble servant, myself^ to behold many of the 
beauties of this beautiful world. So that you see that between the two brief 
years of my first little sister, Angeline (ist), and my own coming on this globe 
there was born one brother and two sisters; therefore, my first little sister, 
Angeline (ist), I never saw; and only heard my mother (in her lifetime) speak 
of Angeline (rst), and I have also seen her name in the records, &c., in the 
Bible at my old home. 

The operator of the planchette, on the evening of which I am speaking, 
knew nothing of my father’s family (excepting, of course, myself). I never 
had mentioned one word to the operator (of planchette), or any one else in 
that little company, anything whatever about my brothers and sisters or even 
about my father’s family in any way or manner ; and besides, we all lived and 
grew up in the north part of the State, not far distant from Lake Erie, while 
the operator has (I think) lived in the south part of this State not far (Jistant 
from the Ohio River ; and there never has been any acquaintance nor any com- 
munication between any member of my father’s family (or any one else even) to 
give any history or information of any kind to the operator, and I certainly 
never gave the operator any information whatever until after the occurrence 
and the writing on the planchette, which wrote this evening, January 28th last, 
the following, viz. : “ Mr. Lewis, / am his sister, I am glad you came here 
to-night j come again [signed') Angeline.'* 

Now I want to ask, how could originate in the mind of operator any 
ideas or thoughts about this little sister Angeline (ist) and myself? I had not 
for years past even thought of her until the name was written on the evening 
spoken of. 

The operator is not, never has been a paid medium. S. Lewis. 

854 . Now let us consider a similar message, which might have 
produced a similar belief in another informant’s mind. But here it so 



854] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 155 

happened that he tested the alleged fact of death ; and found that the 
supposed spirit was still alive at the time of the message. The correspon- 
dent, Mr. G. E. Long, is known to Dr. Hodgson. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., voL ix. p. 65.) 

Jersey City, N. J., October 22nd, 1888. 

... I think I wrote you once that about two years ago I had received what 
was said to be a most convincing test of spirit-return, convincing to all except 
myself. A young lady, a Spiritualist and medium, though not a professional, 
nor one that ever received one cent in pay, by means of a lettered board and 
toy chair, she holding one leg of the chair and I another, while a third leg of 
the chair served as a pointer, gave the following by means of the chair : — 

First the chair spelt out my name and showed a disposition to get in my 
lap ; then it spelled out “ CARY,” and when I asked for the name of the 
“ spirit ” it spelt out “ George (my name), you ought to know me as I am Jim.” 
But I didn’t, and said so. Then, without my looking at the board, it spelt out 
“ Long Island, Jim Rowe,” and “ Don’t you remember I used to carry you 
when you were a little fellow,” or words to that effect. I had to acknowledge 
the truth of it and also to say that as he was an ignorant man he possibly 
intended “ CARY ” for carry. I must own I was puzzled for the moment. To 
make sure of his power I asked that he count the pickets in the fence outside 
of the house and I would go out and confirm his statement. Somehow he 
couldn’t agree to this, and even the medium objected. As a last resort I asked 
how long he had been in the spirit land and the answer came, between thirteen 
and fourteen years. 

Now to the sequel. First it occurred to me a day or two after, that while 
all the incidents given were correct, the name should have been given as ROE 
instead of ROWE. Second, I was upon Long Island this summer, and the 
matter coming to my mind I inquired how long Jim Roe had been dead, and 
was informed he died last winter ; so when I received this test so convincing 
to the believers the man was not dead. — ^Yours truly, 

Geo. E. Long. 

On October 26th, 1888, Mr. Long adds ; — 

I do not think that the medium was fraudulent. Her family consists of 
Mr. S. and three daughters, she being the youngest I have found all to be 
hypnotic subjects, with the exception of the eldest daughter. They are all 
believers in Spiritualism, the youngest having been the medium. They do not 
sit now, as it is claimed that the sittings, while rich in spiritualistic satisfaction, 
were productive of a state of poor health in the medium. 

As I myself have obtained information supposed to have been impossible 
for me to have reached, I cannot say for certainty that she had not obtained 
information about Jim, but I don’t believe she had. As the name Rowe was 
being spelled I sat with my eyes turned from the board and had in mind the 
name Scudder, and mentally followed the taps of the chair to S C U D — when 
the medium said, “ The name Rowe is given,” &c. This would seem to leave 
out any involuntary muscular action. Why Rowe should have been given 
instead of Roe is still another phase. • I wonder whether, if any question of the 
Roe family had arisen, I would have had in mind the name of Rowe? If so, 
then she produced that which I had long while before been conscious of, but 
was at the time unconscious of, and had it coupled with an error in spell- 



CHAPTER VIII 


156 


[855 


ing that I might have been guilty of had I myself been called upon at that 
moment to spell it. Had she been fraudulent the probability is she would 
have spelt it correctly. 

It seems to me that the basis of Spiritualism rests mainly upon this phe- 
nomenon which men and women in a supernormal condition produce, without 
understanding it, and credit it to spiritual agencies. 

[A general corroboration of Mr. Long’s memory of the incident is added 
from a lady present at the time, who does not now recall the details.] 

855 . The next case was sent to Professor Barrett by a convinced, 
Spiritualist, as a proof of the reality of intercourse with the departed. 
The names were stated, but as I am citing the narrative in a sense 
differing from that which its writer meant it to bear, I will not now give 
them, and will only say that all three persons concerned are of very good 
position. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ii- p. 236.) 

One evening, a few years ago, I had with me two young friends, 

Mademoiselle de P., now Lady S., and Mademoiselle de P n, her cousin, 

who is Grande Gouvernante to the daughters of the Crown Prince of Germany, 
both complete unbelievers in Spiritualism. To amuse them, however, as I 
sometimes write under occult influence, I asked Mademoiselle de P, to fix her 
thoughts on some one I did not know, to see whether my hand would write 
something true concerning him or her. She did as I requested, and soon my 
hand wrote, “ His life has been overshadowed by the act of another.” She 
looked astonished and said that the person she was thinking of had had a 
brother to whom he was much attached, who had committed suicide. 

She then asked if she could be told where she had met him for the first 
time. My hand wrote, “It was at the foot of a marble staircase splendidly 
illuminated by a July sun ; as you went up he gazed after you as one gazes on 
the track of a dazzling meteor.” This was also correct ; she had met him, she 
said, for the first time at the foot of the staircase of the Minist^re de la 
Guerre, in Paris, and her cousin added that he had been much struck with 
her. The only inaccuracies were that the staircase was not a marble but a 
stone one, and that it was a September sun that shone. 

When I write in this way the ideas do not come (consciously at least) from 
my mind, and my hand seems to be gently moved by some external influence. 

Now I confess that this, description of the staircase, and the meteor, 
and so forth, suggests to me as its source, not so much a male spirit 
disembodied as a female spirit still in the flesh, and the romantic tone of 
the communication seems to reflect the mood of the persons present. 

856 . In the next case the explanation suggested by Professor 
Alexander is probably the correct one. 

(From the Journal S.P.R., vol. vi, pp. 112-115.) The following 
account of some experiments in table- tilting was sent to us by Professor 
Alexander, of Rio de Janeiro, in March 1892. He writes : — 

Rio de Janeiro, March 21st [1892]. 

Dr. Barcellos is a gentleman who resides at Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, 
where he not only has a considerable practice, but is also generally esteemed 



856] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 157 

as an honourable and sensible man. Having studied hypnotism, he was 
desirous of witnessing some of the allied facts to be observed in psychical 
research. Towards the middle of last year we agreed to hold formal sittings 
at his house with the purpose of eliciting, if it were possible, physical 
phenomena. We devoted Monday evenings to our investigations, the circle 
being composed, with the exception of myself, of members of the doctor’s 
own family. Donna Maria de Villas B6as Barcellos, a school teacher, who 
acted as medium, has, if table-tilting be no proof to the contrary, arrived at 
years of mature discretion. She is Dr. Barcellos’ sister-in-law, and the mother 
of five children. The few sittings held began on the 31st of August 1891, and 
were discontinued about the end of October of the same year. They were sub- 
ject to much interruption by children and visitors, and were finally stopped 
when Donna Maria was appointed to a school at a distance. With the excep- 
tion of some slight crepitations, more felt than heard, the stances, so far as 
physical phenomena go, were a failure. . The lady, doubtless, moved the table 
herself, although she did not seem to be aware of it. As for the messages, 
they were nearly always of a trivial character, and occasionally they were false. 
There seems, however, to have been a noticeable percentage of verifiable truth 
in what came through Donna Maria’s automatism. Before our sittings began, 
this lady was seated at the meza fallante (speaking-table) with members of 
her own family when the presence of her father, then deceased, was announced. 
He was asked to give the names of the people present. This he did, including 
that of a boy who was not in the room at the time, with the information that he 
had just fallen down in the mud. Immediately afterwards the little fellow came 
into the room crying and confirmed the statement made through the table. 
The sitters, who were only seeking for amusement, became frightened and 
abandoned all further experiments. At our own sittings, among much that 
was wearisome and unprofitable, a few encouraging incidents occurred. On 
one occasion (October 26th, 1891) Dr. Barcellos asked mentally about the state 
of a young lady patient who was ill of smallpox. The table replied that she 
would die on the following morning at eight o’clock. She did not die, but at 
the hour mentioned she became much worse. On another occasion, after I had 
retired, details were given about the private life of an individual who lived in 
Vassouras, up country, which were by no means flattering to him. A Sefihor 
Lozada, the doctor’s brother-in-law, who was standing away from the table, 
was the only person present who had previously known of these particulars. 
He declared that the information thus obtained was exact. 

So much for the general character of our sittings, of which I give an idea, 
so . that the incident I am about to relate may not have more than its due 
importance. 

On the 2 1st September 1891, I was seated at the table with Dr. Barcellos, 
his niece ^Ivia, and Donna Maria Barcellos, when the words came, “ The vase 
is broken.” We asked what vase. “ (The vase) at your house, the vase of 
phenic acid.” I demanded the hour, and the reply was, “ At eight o’clock.” Of 
this an immediate note was taken at my request by one of the children seated 
at another table. I transferred this note to my pocket-book where i"' reads as 
follows : — 

“ list of September^ 1891.— 0 vaso se quebrou-— De sua casa— 0 vaso de 
acido phenico — As 8 horas.” 

I at once looked at my watch. It wanted some four or five minutes to 



158 


CHAPTER VIII 


[856 

eight. I knew, however, that it was not going well at the time, and I forgot to 
compare it afterwards with the right time. When this message had been given 
Sylvia Barcellos rose from her place, and went into the dining-room, where she 
told the others what had happened. Some visitors who were there spoke of 
retiring ; but they were urged to stay, as it was only eight o’clock — the hour 
then marked by the timepiece on the wall. Thus a lucky chance determined 
the time of the message, which my carelessness in neglecting to see how much 
I was out might have left in doubt. 

I did not at first suppose that the above words had any more importance 
than other things that came through the table. It was, therefore, an agreeable 
surprise when on a subsequent occasion Dr. Barcellos told me that the message 
had been confirmed. I wrote down a resume of his statement, which I now 
copy from my note-book : — 

“Donna M. on arriving home was being told of fright, when she interrupted 
them, telling them what had come through table. They had just remarked 
time (eight o’clock) and went to give food to sick child — when noise of break- 
age. They exclaimed, ‘ O vaso de acido phenico se quebrou.’ In truth, the 
jug had been upset by the dog, and had fallen against the vase of phenic acid, 
making the noise.” 

Neither the vase in question, which was of porcelain, nor the water-jug was 
really broken. The cause of the accident was a dog that had got into the 
room where the sick child lay. The animal had, no doubt, endeavoured to 
drink out of the jug, which was standing on the floor near a chair. 

The house where Donna Maria was then living is situated about a kilometre’s 
distance from Dr. Barcellos’ residence, so that the explanation by hyperaesthesia 
of the hearing — in a person who could hardly be said to be out of her normal 
condition — seems to me to be absurd. Yet the lady was no clairvoyant, for the 
vase was not really broken. Even if her character were not above suspicion, 
she could not have arranged the incident beforehand, for a dog does not take 
part in a plot. The coincidence in time, and the exact mention of what was 
supposed to have occurred, renders mere chance an extremely unlikely element. 
We are therefore limited to one hypothesis— the emotional impression of the 
girls who exclaimed, “ O vaso de acido phenico se quebrou,” influenced their 
mother telepathically, and the table was the means of bringing to the surface 
the message which her subconsciousness had received. 

Alfred Alexander. 

The evidence of the other witnesses was given in Portuguese, of which 
we print English translations, kindly furnished by Professor Alexander, 

It was a little past eight when the visitors who were with me in the dining- 
room in the evening of the 21st of September 1891 spoke of retiring. 

Luiza Barcellos. 

March 21st, 1S92. 

On the 2ist of September 1891, I witnessed a curious fact in telepathy. 
At that date, at eight o’clock in the evening, various persons in a house in the 
Rua de Donna Marianna heard a strange noise in the room of a smallpox 
patient, and ran into it, crying out that in all probability the vase of phenic 
acid had been broken. Donna Maria Barcellos, my sister- in-law, one of her 
daughters, Sylvia Barcellos, Seflhor Alfredo Alexander, and I were at that 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


858] 


159 


hour seated at a small round table, when it was announced that in the above- 
mentioned house, in the Rua de Donna Marianna, a vase of phenic acid had 
been broken. Donna Maria Barcellos was much astonished when they told 
her on her going home to the Rua de Donna Marianna that they had had a 
great fright at eight o’clock in the evening. She replied that she was already 
aware that it was a vase of phenic acid which had been broken. Then they 
explained to her that such had been the general supposition in the house, that 
when they ran into the room they all exclaimed, “ The vase of phenic acid has 
broken,” and that on entering they discovered that a jug of water standing near 
a chair had fallen against the vase of phenic acid. 

These facts passed in the presence of Professor Alexander, who was also 
at the table with my sister-in-law and Sylvia. 

(Signed) Dr. Alfredo Barcellos. 


Rio de Janeiro, September 22nd, 1891. 

When Mariquinhas came home I said to her, ‘‘You cannot imagine what 
a fright we had to-day,” to which she replied, “You need not tell me; I know 
all about it. It was the vase of phenic acid that broke.” This reply caused us 
the greatest surprise, when she added that nobody had told her of it, but 
that she heard of it through the intermedium of the tilting table. Our astonish- 
ment was still greater when she said that the fact occurred at eight o’clock in 
the evening. 

Indeed, at that hour, when we were in the back part of the house, we heard 
a loud noise like that of the fall of some vessel full (of liquid). The door of the 
bedroom where the child sick of smallpox lay was closed ; but we heard her. 
crying out, and ran to see what was the matter. At the same time the three 
girls exclaimed, “ The vase of phenic acid has broken ! ” It was not, however, 
this vase that broke, but a jug of water which had fallen down. 

N*B » — This fact happened yesterday, September 21st, 1891. 

(Signed) Amelia A. Cardim. 

Maria Cardim. 

Paulina Barcellos. 

Maria Villas Boas. 

Carlota Cardim. 

Amelia Cardim. 

857. The next case (857 A) is very remote ; and I should not use 
it to aid in establishing communication with the dead. But as indicating 
a possible source of error, it seems worth quoting in an Appendix, as it 
is vouched for by two informants who, although here anonymous, are 
distinguished and intelligent men. 

858. My next case — given in 858 A — comes from the late Dr. 
Ermacora, whose untimely death has been a serious loss to our studies. 
Professor W, James visited Dr. Ermacora at Padua and told me that his 
experiments were seriously and carefully conducted. Dr. Ermacora 
himself, for reasons stated in his narrative, regarded this message as 
probably coming from a disembodied intelligence. But it seems to me 
that the statement as to the date of the letter’s arrival may have ema- 
nated from the mind of the Venetian cousin at the time when she 



CHAPTER VIII 


i6o 


[859 


meant to post her letter in the evening. Dr. Ermacora also sent me 
a case (not for publication) where a message written by the same auto- 
matist predicted some remarkable points with regard to her own future 
health. Such a prediction, however — like the frequently recorded pre- 
dictions of somnambulists with regard to their own epileptic fits, &c. — 
seems to me to belong to the province of the subliminal self, which I 
conceive as more intimately, acquainted with the state of the organism 
than the supraliminal self can be. 

859. Thus much for the present with regard to communications 
from the living, and as to the danger that a message purporting to come 
from a deceased person may in reality emanate from the mind of one of 
the living persons present, or, indeed, from some living person at a dis- 
tance. But this, although a real risk, is by no means the only risk of 
deception which such messages involve. The communication may con- 
ceivably come from some unembodied spirit indeed, but not from the 
spirit who is claimed as its author. Have we any way of guarding against 
this deception ; — any hints which may even help us to conceive the nature 
of a danger which lies so entirely outside our terrene experience ? 

The answer to this question cannot be brief, and must for the present 
be delayed, I can best, perhaps, introduce the reader to this new range 
of problems by quoting at this point (in 859 A) some extracts from a 
record of the varied experiences of automatic writing which have been 
intermingled with Miss A.’s crystal- visions, &c., already narrated in 
Chapter VI, (625 C). Such account as can here be produced is, from 
various causes, very incomplete. It contains, however, specimens of several 
of the problems of which mention has already been made. I may remind 
the reader that this is a case with which I am intimately acquainted, 
having carefully watched the progress of the phenomena for some years. 
The statements refer largely to facts within my own knowledge, and these 
are given without exaggeration. 

I should add that the phenomena have continued, whenever invited, 
up to the present date (December, 1900 ), and that they have developed 
in the direction of recognised identities. I have myself lately had through 
Miss A. what appear to me convincing messages, given by raps, on 
private matters from departed friends. That this element exists amid 
these confused communications, I feel sure ; but the recognised spirits are 
seldom able to explain much beyond their own actual message, nor to 
throw light on the strange anonymity in which most of the writings are 
shrouded. There is now no case that I have watched longer than Miss 
A.'s ; — none where I have more absolute assurance of the scrupulous 
probity of the principal sensitive herself and of the group who share the 
experiments ; — but none also which leaves me more often baffled as to the 
unseen source of the information given. There is a knowledge both of 
the past and of the future, which seems capriciously limited, and is 
mingled with mistakes, yet on the other hand is of a nature which it is 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


860 ] 


i6i 


difficult to refer to any individual human mind^ incarnate or discamate. 
We meet here some of the first indications of a possibility of which more 
must be said in a later chapter (IX.), that discamate spirits communi- 
cating with us have occasional access to certain sources of knowledge 
which even to themselves are inscmtably remote and obscure. 

The command to bring C. D.” — a command which, as will be seen, 
I myself obeyed — was especially remarkable in its apparent futility, yet 
it ultimately resulted in developing the phenomena. C. D., indeed, was a 
person in whom the soi-disant Chancellor Hardwicke might be expected 
to take some interest ; — but one is at a loss to imagine what kind of 
perception could pick him out as the one man whose own faculty would 
best contribute to Miss A.’s, and would be best developed by hers in 
return. 

The written diagnoses and prognoses given by the so-called Semirus,’^ 
often without Miss A.’s even seeing the patient or hearing the nature of 
his malady, have become more and more remarkable.^ Miss A. and her 
friends do not wish these private matters to be printed, and I cannot 
therefore insist upon the phenomena here. Yet in view of the amount of 
telgesthesia which Miss A.^s various automatisms reveal, it should first be 
noted that human organisms seem especially pervious to such vue d 
distance. '' Semims,^’ Gelalius,” &c., are obvious pseudonyms ; and 
neither Semirus’ prescriptions nor Gelalius’ cosmogony contain enough of 
indication to enable us to grasp their origin. 

860, I pass on to a series of messages which afford an interesting 
field for the discussion of the rival hypotheses of cryptomnesia '' and 
spirit-control. The automatist, who must here be called Mrs. R., is a 
lady well known to me for some years, and to whom I was first introduced 
by the late Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood (the cousin and brother-in-law of 
Charles Darwin, and himself a well-known savant) ^ who reported certain 
messages obtained in his presence, and partly through his co-operation. 
Mrs. R., and her sister Mrs. V., now deceased, were for many years 
among Mr. Wedgwood’s most valued friends. There can be no more 
question in my mind as to Mrs. R.’s scrupulous good faith than as to that 
of Mr. Wedgwood himself in endeavouring to recall the utmost that they 
had ever known of the personages who professed to be writing through 
the help of the two human hands. The question is one of subliminal 
memory; and as to this it may be remarked that Mr. Wedgwood’s 
reading was wide, — but that he never, so far as I know, showed any 
automatic gift, nor obtained writing except with one of these two ladies. 
On the other hand, Mrs. R.’s reading has not been wide in range ; and 
both Mrs. R. and Mrs. V. had many psychical experiences, — most of them 
of a private nature,® — in which Mr. Wedgwood was not concerned. The 

^ See a recent case furnished by Sir Lawrence Jones, which I print at the end of the 
Appendix. 

2 See, Journal S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 293, for two experiences of Mrs. V.'s. 



i 62 chapter VIII [861 

automatic impulse seems to have come from them; but it may be that 
Mr. Wedgwood’s presence modified the character of the messages 
obtained. I give first a general account by Mr. Wedgwood of the mode 
of experiment. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 92.) 

My experience in planchette-writing has been mainly acquired in sitting 
with two sisters, whom I will call Mrs. R. and Mrs. V., of whom the younger,. 
Mrs. V., has far the stronger influence in producing the writing. With her the 
board in general begins to move much sooner and in a more vivacious way 
than with her elder sister. When the two sit together the board moves rapidly 
along, like a person writing as fast as he can drive, while with me and one of 
the sisters the action is often feeble and labouring. But neither of the sisters 
can obtain anything whatever when they sit by themselves. The board re- 
mains absolutely motionless under the hands of the solitary operator. 

When trying for writing we sit opposite each other at a small table, I with 
my right hand, my partner with her left on the planch ette, while the v;riting 
produced is upright to me, and upside down to my partner, from whom, how- 
ever, the effective influence seems to proceed. The precise nature of that 
influence is not very easy to understand, and is, I think, very commonly mis- 
apprehended. Writing by planchette is often called “automatic,’’ and the 
pencil is conceived as being worked by the muscular action of the sitters, under 
the guidance of a blind impulse, as little understood by them as the finished 
result is foreseen by a pair of birds instinctively engaged in the construction of 
their first nest. But this is directly opposed to the experience of myself and 
my partners. When I am sitting at planchette with one of them, I know that 
I am merely following the movement of the board with my hand, and not in 
any way guiding it, my only difficulty being to avoid interfering with it. It 
seems to me exactly as if my partner, in whom I have perfect confidence, was 
purposely moving the board and I allowing my hand to follow her action, 
interfering with it as little as possible. And she gives to me an exactly 
corresponding account of her own share in the operation. Thus we give to 
the outside world our united testimony of a fact which, as far as each of us 
is concerned, lies within our own direct knowledge, viz., that the writing traced 
out by the pencil is not produced by the muscular exertion of either of us. 

We have, then, in planchette-writing, if our account is to be believed, the 
manifestation of an agency invisible to us, yet capable of moving the bodily 
pencil either in mere scribbling or in such a way as to fix an intelligent message 
on the paper. 

861. The first case which I shall give is in the words of Mr. Wedg- 
wood, in the Journal for December, 1889 (vol. iv. p. 174). 

Whenever I have an opportunity, perhaps once or twice a year, I sit at 
planchette-writing with my friend, whom I will call Mrs. R., a most observant 
witness in whom I have entire confidence. We sit opposite each other at a 
small table, each resting the fingers of one hand lightly upon the board, and 
when the board begins to move, allow our hand to follow the movement freely 
without interfering with it in any way. 

The following account of our last sitting, on June 26th, is from the journal 
of Mrs. R., written the same evening, transcribing the part of planchette from 



861 ] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 163 

the actual writing, and filling in our share of the investigation from immediate 
memory. 

Extract from journal of Wednesday^ June 26th, 1889, a^^copy of planchette- 
writing with Mr* Wedgwood : — 

“ A spirit is here to-day who we think will be able to write through the 
medium. Hold very steady, and he will try first to draw.” 

We turned the page and a sketch was made, rudely enough of course, but 
with much apparent care 

‘‘Very sorry can’t do better. Was meant for test. Must write for you 
instead.— -J. G.” 

We do not fujly understand the first drawing, taking it for two arms and 
hands clasped, one coming down from above. Mr. Wedgwood asked the spirit 
of J. G. to try again, which he did. 

Below the drawing he wrote : “ Now look.” We did, and this time com- 
prehended the arm and sword. 

“ Now I will write for you if you like.” 

Mr. W. : “ What did the drawing represent? ” 

“ Something that was given me.” 

I said : “ Are you a man or a woman ? ” 

“ Man. John G.” 

Mr. W. : “ How was it given to you ? ” 

“ On paper and other things. • . . My head is bad from the old wound I 
got there when I try to write through mediums.” 

Mr. W. : “We don’t know J. G. Have you anything to do with us ? ” 

“No connection.” 

Mr. W. said he knew a J. Gifiard, and wondered if that was the name. 

“ Not GifEard. Gurwood.” 

Mr. W. suggested that he had been killed in storming some fort. 

“ I killed myself on Christmas Day, years ago. I wish I had died fighting.” 

“ Were you a soldier ? ” 

“ I was in the army.” 

“ Can you say what rank? ” 

“ No. ... It was the pen did for me, and not the sword.” 

The yNOxdipen was imperfectly written, and I thought it was meant ior fall, 
I asked if this was right ? 

“ No.” 

Mr. W. : “ Is the word/^» f ” 

“ Yes ; pen did for me.” 

We suggested that he was an author who had failed, or had been 
maligned. 

“ I did not fail. I was not slandered. Too much for me after . . . pen 
was too much for me after the wound.” 

“ Where were you wounded, and when did you die?” 

“ Peninsula to first question.” 

We were not sure about the word Peninsula^ and asked him to repeat. 

“ I was wounded in the head in Peninsula. It will be forty-four years 
next Christmas Day since I killed myself. Oh, my head. ... I killed myself. 
John Gurwood.” 

“ Where did you die? ” 

“ I had my wound in 1810. I cannot tell you more about myself. The 
drawing was a test.” 



[861 


i64 chapter VIII 

We asked if tke device was intended for his crest. 

I had it seal,” 

“ Had it anything to do with your wound ? ” (I cannot remember the exact 
form of this question.) 

‘‘ It came from that and was given me. Power fails to explain. Remember 
my name. Stop now.” 

The only person besides ourselves present at the sitting was Miss H., an 
aunt of Mrs. R.’s, and none of us knew anything of Colonel Gurwood beyond 
the fact of his having edited the despatches of the Duke of Wellington, not 
even that his name was John. It is possible that I might have heard of his 
suicide at the time that it occurred, without its making any impression on me, 
but I am sure I did not read such an obituary notice as would be published in the 
Times, and when my attention was directed to his editorial work eighteen or 
twenty years afterwards I did not know whether he was alive or dead, and was 
entirely ignorant of his military career. I never read any history of the Penin- 
sular War, and am perfectly certain that I never had an opportunity of seeing 
Gurwood’s crest, or knowing anything about it. — H. W. 


The following is the account Mr. Wedgwood wrote of the first sdance 
at the time : — 


June 2 ^th, 1889. 

Had a sitting at planchette with Mrs. R. this morning. Planchette said 
there was a spirit there who thought he could draw if we wished it. We said 
we should be glad if he would try. Accordingly P. made a rude attempt at a 
hand and ann proceeding from an embattled wall and holding a sword. A 
second attempt made the subject clearer. P. said it was meant for a test. The 
spirit signed it ‘H- G-.,” no connection of any of ours, he said. We gradually 
elicited that his name was John Gurwood, who was wounded in the Peninsula, 
in i8io, and killed himself on Christmas Day, 1845. It was not the wound, but 
the pen that did it. 



Something like that. 


July 1889. 

I made the foregoing memorandum the same day, having ver}^ little expec- 
tation that there would be any verification. H. WEDGWOOD. 


Further Extracts from Mrs. R.’s Journal. 

Friday, Septemher 

Mr. Wedgwood came, and we had two sittings in the afternoon and even- 
ing. I think the same spirit wrote throughout, beginning without signature ; 
but when we asked the name, writing (after some struggle and illegibility) 
“ John Gurwood.” 



861 ] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 165 

The effort was at first incoherent, but developed into the following sen- 
tences : — 

“ Sword — when I broke in, on the table with plan of fortress — belonged to 
my prisoner ; I will tell you his name to-night. It was on the table when I 
broke in. He did not expect me; I took him unawares. He was in his room, 
looking at a plan, and the sword was on the table. Will try and let you know 
how I took the sword to-night.” 

In the evening after dinner : — 

“ I fought my way in. His name was Banier ” (three times repeated). « The 
sword was lying on the table by a written scheme of defence. Oh, my head. 
Banier had a plan written out for the defence of the fortress. It was l3dng on 
the table, and his sword was by it.” 

To a question : — 

“ Yes ; surprised him.” 

Mr. Wedgwood thinks the name of the Governor of the fortress of Ciudad 
Rodrigo was Banier ; but he says this would not be a test, as he knew it He 
is going to see if he can find anything in Napier’s Peninsular War corrobora- 
tive of what is said about the sword. 

“ Look. 1 have tried to tell you what you can verify.’* 

Mr. Wedgwood reports his verification as follows : — 

When I came to verify the message of planchette I speedily found that 
Colonel Gurwood, the editor of the Duke’s despatches, led the forlorn hope at 
the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, in 1812 [note error in date], “and received a 
wound in the skull from a musket ball which affected him for the remainder of 
his life.” — Annual Register^ 1845. In recognition of the bravery shown on that 
occasion he received a grant of arms in 1812, registered in the College of Arms 
as having been passed “ upon the narrative that he (Captain G.) had led the 
forlorn hope at Ciudad Rodrigo, and that, after the storming of the fortress, the 
Earl of Wellington presented him with the sword of the Governor, who had 
been taken prisoner by Captain Gurwood.”^ 

The services thus specified were symbolised in the crest, “ Out of a mural 
coronet, a castle ruined in the centre, and therefrom an arm in armour embowed, 
holding a scimitar.” ^ 

It is plainly this crest that is aimed at by planchette in his very rude de- 
sign, which represents the arm and sword as issuing from the mural coronet 
alone, omitting the ruined castle as too complex a subject for the powers of the 
designer. The drawing was given merely as a test, and if it pointed unmis- 
takably to the Gurwood crest it would fulfil its purpose. 

In accordance with the assertion of planchette. Colonel Gurwood killed 
himself on Christmas Day, 1845, and the Annual Register oi that year, after 
narrating the suicide, continues : “ It is thought that this laborious undertaking 
(the editing the despatches) produced a relaxation of the nervous system and 
consequent depression of spirits. In a fit of despondency the unfortunate gentle- 
man terminated his life.” Compare planchette: “ Pen was too much for 

me after the wound.” 

I continue the quotation from Mrs. R.’s journal : — 

Mr. W. : “ Can you tell me where else to look?” 

“ I have no power to direct you. We have exhausted, but I wished to tell 

1 Information received from the College of Arms, July 15th, 1889- 
^ The Book of Family Crests^ Washboume, 1856. 



CHAPTER VIII 


i66 


[861 


you about poor Quentaia ... to tell you a secret of poor Quintain’s, which is 
on my mind. It might once have made a difference ; but not now.” 

We had a difficulty in reading the name. Mr. W. thought it Quinlon, and 
asked if this was right ? 

“Not quite: at. . . . Quentain. Not quite [right], but nearer; try 
again to-morrow.” 

Mr. W. : “Is power exhausted now, and shall we stop ? ” 

“Yes.” 


Saturday, September 2%th. 

Mr. Wedgwood and I sat again this morning. First came some preliminary 
scribbling and circling, and then the right spelling of the name at which John 
Gurwood was trpng last night. 

“ Quentin. I knew him, and a secret of his that might have made a differ- 
ence, but I was pledged.” 

Mr. W. : “ Tell us what the secret was ? ” 

“ I should like to tiy.” 

Mr. W. : “ What difference would it have made to you ? ” 

“ Might have done to him : on my mind.” 

Then followed a word here and there among much that was illegible. I 

copy what we succeeded in reading. “ in the army scrape the 

sake of another very foolish, but nothing wrong for verdict 

was unfortunately what there was let me go on, I am trying say that, 

but quite mistaken case in all its his commission of second 

(company ?) private soldier going out gave to his Colonel very strong feeling 
about it all.” 

The above filled four pages. We pondered over it, but could not make out 
any more. When planchette was put back, the following was volunteered : — 

“ Tell James I remember him quite well. He will recollect about Quentin’s 
trial.” 

Mr. Wedgwood’s friend, ' Captain James, of course, was meant. Mr. W. 
said he would write and ask him ; but did the writer mean that Captain James 
knew the secret ? 

“No one knew it.” (Two lines illegible.) “ James will tell you, I have not 
power. He was tried by court-martial.” 

Mr. W. : “ This Quentin was in the army then 1 ” 

« Yes. rest of them would have but I cannot write plainly in 

answer, though I try. I wanted to tell you about poor Quentin, but have not 
power without further practice. I knew a secret of his at the time of his scrape 
conduct offices The court-martial 1 did not.” 

Mr. Wedgwood here suggested we should stop for a time, to see if rest 
would increase the power. We sat again for a few minutes before lunch, 
directly after which he left by train ; but the control was then different, and the 
few words written did not appear to have any special interest or meaning. 

Mr. Wedgwood writes on October 31st, 1889 : — 

I find that there was a famous court-martial on Colonel Quentin in October 
1814, in consequence of a round robin signed by twenty-four of his officers. I had 
a vague recollection of the name of Colonel Q. as a friend of George IV., and 
something must have turned up about the court-martial in the early twenties, 
when the loth Hussars became notorious, as I found I had heard of the round 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


167 


S63] 

robin. The accusation, too, was of a want of proper directions to his subor- 
dinates in action, so no reticence of anybody could have made any difference, 
and he was himself the Colonel of the regiment. 

With respect to the capture of Banier, the only chance of verification would 
be from the family, and Miss Gurwood has not answered my letter. 

Captain James writes to me from 10 Hereford Road, London, June 
29th, 1891 : — 

About the year 1830 my regiment was quartered at Portsmouth, and 
Colonel Gurwood was then on the staff of the garrison there. The Colonel was 
an honorary member of our mess, and dined with us nearly every day. I 
remember I used to be very fond of sitting next to him, and conversing with 
him about the various events that occurred during the Peninsular War. Of 
■course the Quentin trial must have taken place when I was a mere child, as I 
was born in 1804. 

862. Mr. Wedgwood gave us also another case of a somewhat 
similar character, which I cite in 862 A. 

Finally, a few months before his death, I received from him a third 
retrocognitive case, which is printed in full in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. 
pp. 99-104. It relates to the execution of Alice Grimbold — a maid- 
servant at an inn at Leicester — ^who was condemned to be burnt alive for 
complicity in the murder of her mistress in 1605. A number of names 
and details were given, all of which were afterwards verified in a History 
of Leicester. The automatists were confident that they had never heard 
of any of the facts before. 

863. I have given these cases in succession, so that the reader 
may see the kind of growing difficulty which the theory of forgotten memo- 
ries here involves. It will be seen that with each automatist of good 
faith the question may with patience be capable of definite solution. 
Were Mrs, R. willing and able — which at present she is not — to find 
some other partner with whom she can write, now that Mr, Wedgwood 
and her sister have been removed by death, and to record a long series 
of communications, we might gradually obtain a conviction that the 
matters therein narrated either could or could not all of them have been 
previously seen and forgotten. Similar records kept by many other auto- 
matists might help to some general conclusion as to the source from 
which these retrocognitive facts come, if in any cases forgotten memory 
fails to explain them. One of the most important data for such a 
decision consists in the account — absolutely trustworthy, as I believe — 
given by Mr. Stainton Moses in Spirit Identity,” of a series of messages 
from musical composers, giving the principal dates of their respective 
lives, as they may be found in any Biographical Dictionary, with 
hardly anything more. Now were such messages offered to us as 
coming through an alleged automatist not of known probity or who 
could bring no proof of other messages not capable of being got up 
beforehand, we should naturally set them aside. But with Mr. Moses, as 



CHAPTER VIII 


i68 


[864 


with Mrs. R. above — and in a still higher degree — there was so con- 
siderable an independent history of provably supernormal phenomena 
that we are bound to consider these musical biographies in their place 
as a part of that series. Their peculiar nature excited the surprise of 
Mr. Moses and his friends, who were informed by the ** guides ” that 
these were in fact messages from the spirits in question, but that these 
spirits had refreshed their memory of their earth-lives by consulting 
printed sources of information. It is obvious that this is to drop the 
supposed proof of identity altogether. If any given spirit can consult 
his own printed life, so also presumably can other spirits ; and so per- 
haps can the still incarnated spirit of the automatist himself. This was 
of course felt by Mr. Moses, who told me that subjectively also the feeling 
which accompanied these biographical writings was very different from 
that which came when, as he held, some spirit was entering with him into 
real and direct communication. 

864. From these remote historical narratives I go on to certain 
messages avowedly coming from persons more recently departed, and 
into which something more of definite personality seems to enter. One 
element of this kind is handwriting; and in the next case it will be seen 
that resemblance of handwriting is one of the evidential points alleged. 
Now proof of identity from resemblance of handwriting may conceivably 
be very strong. But in estimating it we must bear two points in mind. 
The first is that (like the resemblances of so-called spirit-photographs to 
deceased friends) it is often very loosely asserted. One needs, if not an 
expert’s opinion, at least a careful personal scrutiny of the three scripts — 
the automatisms voluntary and his automatic script, and the deceased 
person’s script — before one can feel sure that the resemblance is in more 
than some general scrawliness. This refers to the cases where the 
automatist has provably never seen the deceased person’s handwriting. 
Where he has seen that handwriting, we have to remember (in the second 
place) that a hypnotised subject can frequently imitate any known hand- 
writing far more closely than in his waking state ; and that consequently 
we are bound to credit the subliminal self with a mimetic faculty which 
may come out of these messages without any supraliminal guidance what- 
ever on the automatisms part. I give in 864 A an abridged account of a 
series of experiments by Professor Rossi-Pagnoni at Pesaro, into which the 
question of handwriting enters. The full account illustrates automatic 
utterance as well as other forms of motor automatism, and possibly also 
telekinetic phenomena. The critical discussion of the evidence by Mr. 
H. Babington Smith, to whom we are indebted for the account, shows 
with what complex considerations we have to deal in the questions now 
before us. 

865. The case of Mrs. Underwood next to be quoted (in 865 A) 
contains several points of interest besides the alleged resemblance of 
handwriting. It shows once more, for instance, the great similarity of 



866 ] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 169 

ways in which this writing takes its rise with autoraatists all over 
the world, and the recurrence of the same puzzles with observers of many 
different types, and may thus serve as an introduction to the groups of 
cases which follow. 

866. I now cite a few cases where the point of central interest is 
the announcement of a death unknown to the sitters. 

The first is a case which we received from Dr. Li^beault, of Nancy, 
and which was first published in Phantasms of the Living (vol. i. p. 293), 
where it was regarded as an example of a spontaneous telepathic 
impulse proceeding directly from a dying person. I now regard it as 
more probably due to the action of the spirit after bodily death. The 
translation of Dr. Lidbeault’s narrative is as follows : — 

N AtNCY, Sepember 1885. 

I hasten to write to you as to that case of thought-transference of which I 
spoke to you when you were present at my h3^notic stances at Nancy. The 
incident occurred in a French family from New Orleans, who had come to stay 
for some time at Nancy for business reasons. I had become acquainted with 
this family from the fact that M. G., its head, had brought to me his niece, 

B., to be treated by hypnotism. She suffered from slight anaemia and 
from a nervous cough, contracted at Coblentz, in a High School where she was 
a teacher. I easily induced somnambulism, and she was cured in two sittings. 
The production of this hypnotic state suggested to the G. family (Mrs. G. was 
a spirit medium) and to B. herself that she might easily become a medium. 
She set herself to the evocation of spirits (in which she firmly believed) by the 
aid of her pen, and at the end of two months she had become a remarkable 
writing medium. I have myself seen her rapidly writing page after page of 
what she called “ messages,” — all in well-chosen language and with no erasures, 
— ^while at the same time she maintained conversation with the people near 
her. An odd thing was that she had no knowledge whatever of what she was 
writing. It must be a spirit,” she would say, “which guides my hand; it is 
certainly not I.” 

One day, — ^itwas, I think, February 7th, 1868, about 8 a.m., when just about to 
seat herself at table for breakfast, she felt a kind of need, an impulse which 
prompted her to write ; — it was what she called a trance ^ — and she rushed off 
at once to her large note-book, where she wrote in pencil, with feverish haste, 
certain undecipherable words. She wrote the same words again and again on 
the pages which followed, and at last, as her agitation diminished, it was 
possible to read that a person called Marguerite was thus announcing her 
death. The family at once assumed that a young lady of that name, a friend 
of M“® B.’s and her companion and colleague in the Coblentz High School, must 
have just expired. They all came immediately to me, B. among them, 
.and we decided to verify the announcement of death that very day. B. 
wrote to a young English lady who was also a teacher in that same school. 
She gave some other reason for writing ; — ^taking care not to reveal the true 
motive of the letter. By return of post we received an answer in English, of 
which they copied for me the essential part. I found this answer in a portfolio 
hardly a fortnight ago, and have mislaid it again. It expressed the surprise of 
the English lady at the receipt of M“® B.’s unexpected and apparently motive- 



170 


CHAPTER VIII 


[867 

less letter. But at the same time the English correspondent made haste to 
announce to B. that their common friend, Marguerite, had died on 
February 7th, at about 8 a.m. Moreover, the letter contained a little square 
piece of printed paper ; — the announcement of death sent round to friends. 

1 need not say that I examined the envelope, and that the letter appeared 
to me to have veritably come from Coblentz. Yet I have since felt a certain 
regret. In the interests of science I ought to have asked the G. family to 
allow me to go with them to the telegraph office to inquire whether they had 
received a telegram early on F ebruary 7th. Science should feel no shame ; truth 
does not dread exposure. My proof of the fact is ultimately a moral one : the 
honour of the G. family, — ^which has always appeared to me to be absolutely 
above suspicion. A. A. Li^beault. 

Upon these last sentences Gurney remarks that, apart from the impro- 
bability that the whole family would join in a conspiracy to deceive their 
friend, the nature of the answer received from Coblentz shows that the 
writer of it cannot have been aware that any telegraphic announcement 
had been sent. And it is in itself unlikely that the authorities of the 
school would have felt it necessary instantly to communicate the news to 
Mdlle. B. 

867. I shall next give in 867 A a case of curious complexity received 
from M. Aksakoff ; — an automatic message written by a Mdlle. Stramm, 
informing her of the death of a M. Duvanel. The principal incidents 
may here be disentangled as follows : — 

Duvanel dies by his own hand on January 15th, 1887, in a Swiss village, 
where he lives alone, having no relations except a brother living at a distance, 
whom Mdlle. Stramm had never seen (as the principal witness, M. Kaigorodoff, 
informs us in a letter of May 1890). 

Mdlle. Stramm’s father does not hear of DuvanePs death till two days 
later, and sends her the news in a letter dated January i8th, 1887. 

Five hours after Duvanel’s death an automatic message announcing it is 
written at the house of M. Kaigorodoff, at Wilna in Russia, by Mdlle. Stramm, 
who had certainly at that time received no news of the event. 

From what mind are we to suppose that this information came ? 

(i) We may first attempt to account for Mdlle. Stramm’s message on the 
theory of latency » We may suppose that the telepathic message came from 
the dying man, but did not rise into consciousness until an opportunity was 
afforded by Mdlle. Stramm’s sitting down to write automatically. 

But to this interpretation there is an objection of a very curious kind. 
The message written by Mdlle. Stramm was not precisely accurate. Instead 
of ascribing Duvanel’s death to suicide, it ascribed it to a stoppage of blood, 
un engorgement de sang.” 

And when M. Stramm, three days after the death, wrote to his daughter 
in Russia to tell her of it, he also used the same expression, “ un engorgement 
de sang,” thus disguising the actual truth in order to spare the feelings of his 
daughter, who had formerly refused to marry Duvanel, and who (as her father 
feared) might receive a painful shock if she learnt the tragic nature of his end. 
There was, therefore, a singular coincidence between the automatic and the 
normally-written message as to the death; — a coincidence which looks as though 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


871] 


171 


the same mind had been at work in each instance. But that mind cannot have 
been M. Stramm’s ordinary mind, as he was not supraliminally aware of 
Duvanel’s death at the time when the first message was written. It may, 
however, be supposed that his subliminal self had received the information of 
the death telepath ically, had transmitted it in a deliberately modified form to 
his daughter, while it remained latent in himself, and had afterwards influenced 
his supraliminal self to modify the information in the same way when writing 
to her. 

(2) But we must also consider the explanation of the coincidence given by 
the intelligence which controlled the automatic writing. That intelligence 
asserted itself to be a brother of Mdlle. Stramm’s, who died some years before. 
And this “ Louis ” further asserted that he had himself influenced M. Stramm 
to make use of the same euphemistic phrase, with the object of avoiding a 
shock to Mdlle. Stramm; for which purpose it was needful that the two 
messages should agree in ascribing the death to the same form of sudden 
illness. 

Now if this be true, and the message did indeed come from the deceased 
“ Louis,” we have an indication of continued existence, and continued knowledge 
of earthly affairs, on the part of a person long dead. 

But if we consider that the case, as presented to us, contains no proof of 
“ Louis* ” identity, so that ** Louis ** may be merely one of those arbitrary names 
which the automatisms subliminal intelligence seems so prone to assume; 
then we must suppose that Duvanel was actually operative on two occasions 
after death, first inspiring in Mdlle. Stramm the automatic message, and 
then modifying in M. Stramm the message which the father might otherwise 
have sent. 


868. I next give in 868 A and B two cases where certain telekinetic 
phenomena seem to have been connected with the announcement of a 
recent death, which in the first case was given by raps, and in the second 
was accompanied by other physical disturbances. It must be observed, 
however, that the evidence for the identity of the spirit who was supposed 
to be communicating in this second case is far from complete. I have 
already pointed out that the class of motor automatisms seems to lead to 
telekinetic phenomena, but I shall postpone any discussion of them till 
the following chapter. 

869. I next give in 869 A and B two cases where the supposed 
communicators had been dead some time, the deaths being known to the 
automatists, but certain details of the deaths were correctly given, in 
opposition to the beliefs of the automatists. 

870. I add to these in 870 A another curious case where various 
details known to the alleged communicator were correctly given, although 
unknown to the sitters; yet where other circumstances were described 
as they were at the time of the communicator’s death, although the sitters 
were aware that these circumstances had since altered. 

871. I know not in what light I should have regarded the next 
case I give (in 871 A) had I seen it only in a book bearing the 
somewhat alarming title of The Holy Truth (Arthur Hallah, 1876). 





CHAPTER VIII 


[872 

But the aggressiveness of religious conviction with which Mr, Hugh 
Junor Browne’s experiences have inspired him does not prevent his being, 
as I have heard from the Hon. Sir W. G. VVindeyer, Judge of Supreme 
Court, Sydney, and have found on personal acquaintance, a man of high 
standing as to both character and practical capacity. He is a prosperous 
man of business at Melbourne, and the elder of the two daughters with 
whose automatism we have to deal is manied to one of the foremost men 
of the Colony of Victoria. I regard him, therefore, as a witness whose 
strong opinions, indeed, might help a fraudulent medium to deceive him, 
but who is fully to be trusted as regards easily observed events occurring 
in his own family circle. I discussed this case with him and Mrs. Browne 
on October 3rd, 1891. Mrs. Browne seemed tome a good witness, and 
corroborated the facts so far as immediately known to her, giving me a 
written confirmation of the writing of the young child, who was present 
at our interview as a young lady of about twenty. Miss Browne cannot 
remember the incident in her fifth year, but told me that she had some- 
times written automatically since that date ; — her arm used to feel numb 
while doing so. 

872 , I give in 872 A another instance of a little girl, only four 
years of age, who had no knowledge of her letters, and who wrote 
several significant words — “Your Aunt Emma.” 

873 . I now quote in full a general account of his experiences in 
automatic writing by a Mr. VV., from whom I have ^already cited a minor 
experience, also of a motor type, in 823 . Dr. Hodgson visited and had 
long talks with him, and formed the highest impression of his ability 
and care. Some of the automatic messages are perhaps best explicable 
on the hypothesis of subliminal telaesthesia, others by telepathy from 
living minds, while others are at least primd facie referable to a source 
in the mind of a departed person, from whom they professed to come. 
Whether there are in reality so many different origins of a series of 
messages given to one automatist, or whether any one explanation can be 
made to cover them all, is a matter to which we shall have to return in 
the next chapter. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. pp, 242-48.) 


N.y., November 15^5, 1891. 

Dr. Richard Hodgson,— Dear Sir,— Recently I learned that you are 
the Secretary of the American Branch of the Society for Psychical Research. 
Being interested in the subject, I concluded to write to you, offering a state- 
ment of my own experience. As so-called spiritual manifestations are viewed 
unfavourably h£re, and as it would be much to my detriment if my connection 
with the subject were to become known, I ask that my name be withheld from 
the public. 

For the past five years I have been a so-called writing medium. The 
writing is involuntary on my part, and the thoughts expressed are not mine — 
that is, as far as I know they are not mine. 



873] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 173 

Sometimes, instead of writing, off-hand pen work will be done, but it is not 
of a very high order. In the writing the penmanship is generally very good, 
and the thoughts expressed are generally good, and are sometimes valuable. 
As you are undoubtedly familiar with this class of writing, I will not go into 
details, but will leave you to inquire for such facts as you see fit. 

I am anxious to find a satisfactory explanation of this, and I hope the 
Society may yet be able to furnish one. 

As an indication of the trend of my thoughts, I will add that for the past 
thirteen or fourteen years I have been a student of the works of Herbert Spencer 
and other great men of liberal views, and that I am an evolutionist, so called. 

If you think my experience will be of use, please call for it. You may send 
questions, or you may state in a general way the outline of what will be of use. 

N.Y., December 22 nd^ 1891. 

Dr. Richard Hodgson, — Sir, — . . . Five years ago I was in Vermont on 
business, and while there made a visit at the home of a relative. In the even- 
ing, for amusement, a planch ette was produced and operated. Pretty soon it 
was written that I was a writing medium, and I was requested to try with a 
pencil. I took a pencil in my hand and to my surprise I found I could write 
some in the “ automatic ” manner. The writing was not very good and was 
accompanied with more or less breaks and difficulties. It was written that 
practice would make it much freer and better. This I found to be so. Persons 
in the room asked as to dates on pieces of money and other similar tests, and 
the answers were generally correct. After that I wrote some almost daily for 
some time and soon became quite a ready writer in this manner. 

On one occasion, not long after, a friend, of whose life I had known nothing 
until about that time, proposed to ask some questions mentally and see if the 
answers written would be correct. It was written that the spirit of his wife was 
present. I inquired (mentally) for her name. In reply her name was written 
out in full, correctly. I did not know her name : I knew that he was a widower, 
and I knew no more of his wife or the matters inquired about. My friend then 
asked (mentally) where she died and when ? The answers were correct. He 
then asked, What was the cause of her death ? ’’ The answer, “ Heart 
disease,” was correct. He then asked for the circumstances of her death. It 
was written that she died suddenly, at night, by the side of him, in bed, and 
that the first thing he knew of her« death was when he found her dead in the 
morning. This was correct. He asked for her age, size, and for any particular 
mark by which she could be identified ? The answer was correct as to age and 
size, and as to identification it was written that she had a large scar near the 
knee, caused by a burn. This was also correct. 

Many other questions were asked and answered ; and whether he asked the 
questions aloud, or mentally to himself, the answers were strictly correct in 
almost every instance. There was no one but us two present. 

On another occasion, about the same time, I made inquiry (I was alone) 
touching a case I was then investigating. Briefly, the facts are these: — 
A wealthy widow, Mrs. X., had died at her summer cottage with no one 
present save her sister and a neighbour. She left a will : by its terms this 
sister was to receive several thousand dollars. Our client, Mrs. Y., was also 
a legatee and the executrix of the will ; and as such it was her duty to collect 
in all assets. Our client knew it to be a fact that the deceased had in cash 
in her possession a short time before her death about $700. After Mrs. X.’s 



CHAPTER VIII 


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[873 


death no money was found, and the sister who was with her claimed there 
was no money; that Mrs. X'. had no money at the time of her death about 
her, except some $15. Our /client saw this sister and questioned her closely, 
but to no purpose. I did/hot see or know this sister until some time after 
the writing I am about tOf^giye. The question was, what had become of the 
$700 ? Alone by myself - 1 asked for the facts, which were written out much in 
detail, but in substance the facts as written were these : That the deceased had 
on her person at the time of her death about $600; that she had spent the 
other $100 ; that immediately after her death her sister, Mrs. Z., had stolen the 
$600 from her dead body ; that she had since spent some of it and deposited 
the balance, some $500, in a bank in the village of A. In the course of a few 
days we made inquiry, and learned that Mrs. Z. had made the deposit there, 
but had recently drawn it out. We then cited her before the Surrogate, and 
she swore that just before the death of Mrs. X. (the same night she died) Mrs. 
X. gave her the money, {520, to give to a nephew as a present; that there was 
only $520; that she had just given it to the nephew. We commenced a suit 
against her for the money ($520) and recovered it. The jury did not believe 
her defence and made her pay. I have only stated so much of the case as 
seems to bear on the “ automatic ’’ writing* The question is, where did I get 
the knowledge of the theft, the amount .and the^eposit in the bank ? I may 
add that we afterwards learned she did spj^d ‘some money about that time 
that we always thought was some she took in addition to the $520, and it 
would have made the sum stolen about $ 6 po. 

About four and a half years ago an aunt of mine, Miss T., learned that she 
had a cancer growing on her breast. . She had it cut out, and soon was 
apparently in very fair health. After a few months she began to fail very 
much’; was about the house, but was very generally run down. Cancer did not 
reappear. She was not said by her doctors to be in any immediate danger ; 
but for some reason I made inquiry, and to my surprise it was written that she 
was very badly off, and that she would only live a very short time. I inquired 
the cause, &c., and it was written that her system was poisoned through and 
through with cancerous matter. I inquired as to when she would die ? The 
answer was that it was impossible to tell just when, that the most that 
could be said was that she would live about thirty days, judging from a 
careful examination of her case made at that time. It was written that she 
would certainly die, that she could not possibly get better or live much longer 
than thirty days. Within the next week or so I inquired on several occasions 
as to the matter, but the answers were always to the same effect and positive. 
My aunt declined fast and died at the time set within a day, and. I think it was 
just thirty days. She was abed only ten days or so. A ^ost-mortem showed 
she died from cancerous poisoning. 

On many occasions I have made inquiry as to whether certain sick ones 
would die or recover ; and if die, when ? Generally the answers proved very 
correct. 

About a year ago I was writing (for the spirit of deceased friend, Mr. A. sa 
claimed). After some writing of a friendly nature, it was written substantially 
as follows There is one thing that I wish you could do for me, but I don^t 
see how you can, and that is, stop my son ” (name fully given) “ from drinking.’^ 
I answered (by thought), “Why, I am surprised. He doesn’t drink, does he? 
that is, not any to speak of, any way ? ” A. : “ Yes, I am sorry to say he drinks 



873] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 175 

a good deal too much/' Q. : “ Where does he do his drinking mostly ? ’* A. ; 
“ At the B. Hotel/* I said I never heard of his drinking. A. : Well, you 
watch and inquire, and you will find out that he does/* “ I should be very glad 
to be of some service in the matter.” A. : “ If I see a chance where you can I 
shall certainly call on you.” 

Upon investigation I found this was all true. 

In May 1887, while looking for authorities on an obscure point in a case 
I was then preparing for trial, it was written in substance : “ I know where the 
authority is that you need.” Q. : “Where?” A.: “In ‘Wendell’s Reports,' 
vol.— , page—.” Q. : “ Who are you? ” A. : “ I am A. B.” The volume and 
page, as well as the name, were given in full; the name was that of an old 
lawyer that I had known weU. The case cited was just what I needed. I had 
never seen or heard of the case before to my best knowledge. There are 
twenty-six volumes of “ Wendell’s Reports,” of about 700 pages each. 

I frequently find as I am examining indexes for judgment-debtors, grantees 
or grantors, &c., in clerks’ offices, and elsewhere, that there is the same 
manifestation of intelligence in another form. Let me explain: Say I am 
searching an index under the head of “ S,” looking for the name of Stearns, 
John J. By placing my hand or finger on the book, drawing it along down 
over the names, with no thought of the work in hand, as soon as my finger 
passes the name desired my finger wUl stop. My eyes must be directed 
towards the book, but no matter how listless or absent-minded I may be, still 
at such times my finger will stop at the name in question. When contrasted 
with ordinary searching the unconscious intelligence that seems to be behind 
this is very marked. 

Once, being much in doubt, I asked, “What ails ?” (one of my sons) 

“ What shall I do for him ? ” The answer was, “ You had better not try to do 
anything for him, but go and get Dr. T. He will know what to do.” I called- 
Dr. T. He examined him and immediately gave an emetic. The contents of 
the stomach showed that digestion had been stopped, or rather, that the food 
had not digested at all. The boy recovered rapi^y. Dr. T. said it was well I 
called him. The boy had been rather suddenly taken ill a few hours after a 
hearty meal and soon after a severe fright or mental strain. 

In a contested case over a certain clause or bequest in the will of C. we 
had been defeated and were about to appeal to the Court of Appeals, our 
highest court. It was my opinion, also my partner’s, that we would win on 
the appeal ; but upon inquiry it was written that we should be beaten, and 
this opinion was expressed on several occasions, with very good reasons 
assigned. We were advised not to appeal. We brought the appeal and were 
defeated* 

I have made many inquiries as to whether certain sick persons would re- 
cover or die. The answers have been very correct, generally. Writing touching 
the future is generally stated to be but an opinion, based on known facts, and 
fallibility is freely admitted. When opinions are written the reasons assigned 
are very frequently not only new to. me, or unthought of, but are generally good 
reasons. 

I have had a good deal of experience and made a good many tests. Those 
I have given are a fair sample, I think, of the writing that proved to be true. 
Many statements made were false and many predictions made proved untrue ; 
of these I have given no illustration, but could if necessary. I have done most 



CHAPTER VIII 


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[873 


of my writing when no one was present. Perhaps I should state that it has 
been repeatedly written not to believe any writing or statement unless my own 
good judgment approved of it. I have written a good deal touching a future 
state, political and philosophical matters. Of all this I have not spoken, as it 
does not seem of much importance for our present purposes. In passing I will 
say that much of it was apparently very good, and quite reasonable. 


Decemhei" 2 Sth. 

On Christmas Eve there was, as you are probably aware, a railway accident 
near Hastings, a little way out from New York City, in which twelve persons 
were killed and another has since died from injuries received. This last-men- 
tioned person resided near me. The news of the injury to this person reached 
me on Christmas Day, Telegrams in the afternoon were favourable, and indi- 
cated a recovery. I made inquiry as to the matter, and it was written in 
substance that the person would not recover. I suggested that telegrams 
indicated a recovery. The answer was: ‘‘Yes; but we have made an 
examination, and are of opinion that no recover}' will take place.” Telegrams 
the second day were still more favourable, but my writing did not change 
in opinion. The party died at nine o’clock on the evening of the 26th. . . . 

January 2gth, 1892. 

Dr. R. Hodgson,— Dear Sir,— In reply to your inquiry for such facts as I 
may be abje to give, touching the experiences given you by my husband, as 
automatic writer, I will state : — 

Not long after he began to write, some five years ago, I saw a sheet of paper 
upon which was written a full account of the robbing of the body of the dead 
sister. I read the account carefully. My husband said that he had written it 
automatically ; that he had asked for the facts and that was the answer. The 
account of it, as written out for you by my husband, is the same in substance 
as what I saw and read, except it is very much shortened. I had the paper for 
some time, and, I think, until after the facts as given were proven true ; but it 
was destroyed long ago. I attended the trial of the suit brought to recover the 
money. His account given you I believe to be correct. 

The lady, Miss T. , who had a cancer, was my aunt. The account of her 
sickness and death are correctly given you by my husband, but I saw no 
writing, although my husband told me at the time he had written something 
concerning her, and he stated that it was written that she would die and told 
when, I do not recall the time set, but I recollect her death occurred at the 
time predicted, 

I recollect the time referred to when our son was sick. I saw my 

husband doing some writing on that occasion, and it was written to go and get 
. Dr. T. The account as written out for you by my husband is, as I recollect it, 
true in every respect. 

Concerning the accident of Christmas Eve, I remember that on Christmas 
Day, after we heard of the accident, my husband did some writing. He said 
he had inquired as to Mr. E.’s condition, &c., and that it was written that E. 
would die, that he was internally and dangerously injured. On the next day 
the answers that he received as to Mr. E.’s condition were to the same effect. 
The telegrams received during the same time indicated that he would recover — 
one reported him out of* danger. E. died about nine on the night of the 26th. 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


873 ] 


177 


I have known my husband to write out correctly quite a good many things 
that were out of the knowledge of ordinary persons, but of the circumstances 
which he has given to you I do not now recall anything further. 

[Mrs. W.] 


January 2 gtk , 1892. 

Dr. Richard Hodgson, — Dear Sir, — I recollect the occasion referred 
to by Mr. W. I think it was about five years ago. We were alone ; he 
spoke of the queer writing he was doing. After some talk on the subject 
Mr. W. consented to try his skill. I inquired what spirits were present, and 
Mr. W.’s hand wrote that my wife was. I inquired for her name, and he wrote 
Adelia O. B., which was correct I also inquired [when] she died, and where 
and under what circumstances, and I asked for a description of her. Mr. W. 
wrote out answers to all the questions as I asked them. As I recall it, I 
asked most of the questions by thinking. He wrote that she died of heart 
disease, and the date of her death was correctly given, as was also her per- 
sonal appearance. And it was written that she died in bed with me ; that the 
first I knew of her death was when I awoke in the morning. He also wrote 
that there was a large scar near the knee on the left leg. 

I recollect that the answers were correct, although I don’t recollect all the 
words used, perhaps. I am very certain that Mr. W. did not know anything 
about my wife. I had not lived within twenty miles of him, neither had I known 
him until several years after the death of my wife. It puzzled me how he was 
able to answer as he did, as I have no reason to think he had any knowledge 
on the subject. I will add that the height, colour of eyes and hair, and the 
entire personal description given were exceedingly exact and correct. 

Mr. W. also wrote on that occasion what purported to come firom an old 
friend of mine — that he went fishing with me to Lake Ontario, that I tipped the 
boat over near shore and got him wet. This was true, but I hadn’t thought of 
it in a long time. Mr. W. never heard of it, I am confident, until he wrote 
it out. S. H. Britton. 


As soon as Mr. Britton called my attention to the tipping over of the boat 
I recalled that I wrote about it at the time. W. 


Mr. W, adds later : — 

New York, February 1S92. 

I began my automatic writing with my left hand, and have ever since 
been able to write in that manner with my left hand, but I am naturally right- 
handed, and I can write more rapidly and readily with my right hand, 
although the ideas expressed, &c., are of as high an order, as far as I have 
observed, when written with one hand as when written with the other. 

In automatic work, when the mechanical ability to form letters is not re- 
quired, as, for instance, in running the hand down an index, I find my left hand 
is fully the equal of my right. Perhaps I should state that I met with a serious 
injury to my right hand many years ago, by which I lost the two first fingers 
and greatly crippled my hand otherwise. 

The reason that I did my first automatic writing with my left hand was that 
the planchette directed me to do so. I wrote a day or two with my left hand, 
and then I tried my right, and since that I have generally written with my 
right. I can write some slowly in the natural manner with my left hand, but 
have never done so but very little. The special point I wish to call attention to 
VOL. n. M 



CHAPTER VIII 


178 


[874 


is, that the ideas automatically written are of as high an order, written with one 
hand, as with the other. . . . 


Another experience of Mr. W.’s is given in 873 A. 

It is plain that if we admit that departed spirits can still see and judge 
of earthly matters, and can impress their knowledge on incarnate minds, 
we should have a single explanation which would cover all Mr. W.'s 
experiences as here recorded. It is to be noted, moreover, that the 
premonitions, of which he gives several instances, are such as might fall 
within the scope of a discarnate spirit, with intelligence comparable with 
our' own, but able to examine certain diseased organisms more thoroughly 
than any earthly physician could do. This, it may be observed, was not 
the case with the premonitions given to Lady Mabel Howard (851 A), 
which involved a complexity of incident which looks as though it must 
lie beyond the calculation of an intelligence like our own, however fully 
informed of existing circumstances. 

874 . Deferring till the next chapter any further discussion of this 
problem, I give here in 874 A a well-evidenced case of a prediction by 
table-tilting of a precise date of death, at a distance of forty days, 

875 . I next quote a case which illustrates the continued terrene 
knowledge on the part of the dead of which other instances were given in 
the last chapter. 


(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. pp. 349-53. The narrative is a transla- 
tion from an article in Psychische Studien, December 1889, pp. hy the 

Editor, the Hon. Alexander AksakofE.) 

The case belongs not to the category of facts which are known only to the 
deceased^ but to the category of those which could only be imparted by the 
deceased, for it relates to a political secret concerning a living person, which 
was revealed by an intimate friend of that living person for the purpose of 
saving him. I shall set forth this case in all possible detail, because I consider 
it a most convincing one in support of the Spiritualistic hypothesis. I will 
even express myself still more strongly. I consider that it affords as absolute 
a proof of identity as it is possible for evidence of this kind to present. 

My readers are already acquainted with my sister-in-law, Mrs. A. von 
Wiesler, from the part she took in the family stances held with me in the 
years 1880-1883, after the decease of my wife. She has an only daughter, 
Sophie, who at the time of those stances was completing her studies. She 
had taken no part, either at our stances or at any others, and she had not 
read anything about Spiritualism. Her mother also had not joined in any 
stances except our own. 'One evening in October 1884, during the visit of a 
distant relative, the conversation turned upon Spiritualism, and in order to 
please, him a trial with the table was arranged. The sdance, however, gave 
no satisfactory result. It only showed that the two ladies were able to get 
something. On Tuesday evening, January ist, 1885, Mrs, von Wiesler being 
alone with her daughter, in order to divert her mind from some matters 
w'hich made her anxious, proposed to hold a little stance. An alphabet was 
written out on a sheet of paper, a saucer with a black line as pointer served 
as a planchette, and, behold, the name Andreas was indicated. This was 



MOTOR AUTOMATISM 


179 


875 ] 

quite natural, for Andreas was the name of Sophie’s father, the deceased 
husband of Mrs. von Wiesler. The communication presented nothing re- 
markable, but it was nevertheless resolved to continue the stances once a 
week, on every Tuesday. For three weeks the character of the communica- 
tions remained unchanged. The name Andreas was continually repeated. 

But on the fourth Tuesday — January 22nd — in place of the customary 
name, Andreas, the name “Schura” was spelt out, to the great astonishment 
of both sitters. Then, by quick and precise movements of the pointer, these 
words were added : — 

“ It is given to thee to save Nikolaus.” 

“ What does this mean ? ” asked the astonished ladies. 

He is compromised as Michael was, and will like him go to min. A band 
of good-for-nothing fellows are leading him astray.” 

“ What can be done to counteract it ? ” 

Thou must go to the Technological Institute before three o’clock, let Niko- 
laus be called out, and make an appointment with him at his house.” 

This being all addressed to the young lady, Sophie, she replied that it 
would be difficult for her to carry out tiiese directions on account of the slight 
acquaintanceship which existed between her and Nikolaus’s family. 

“ Absurd ideas of propriety 1 ” was “ Schura’s ” indignant reply. 

But in what way shdl I be able to influence him ? ” asked Sophie. 

** Thou wilt speak to him in my name.” 

“ Then your convictions no longer remain the same.^^” 

“ Revolting error ! ” was the reply. 

I must now explain the meaning of this mysterious communication. 
“ Schura ” is the Russian pet name for Alexandrine. Nikolaus and Michael 
were her cousins. Michael, quite a young man, had unfortunately allowed 
himself to become entangled by the revolutionary ideas of our Anarchists or 
Socialists. He was arrested, tried, and condemned to imprisonment at a 
distance from St. Petersburg, where he lost his life in an attempt to escape. 

“ Schura ” loved him dearly, and fully sympathised with his political convic- 
tions, making no secret of it. After his death, which occurred in September 
1884, she was discouraged in her revolutionary aspirations, and ended her 
life by poison, at the age of seventeen, on the 15th of January 1885, just one week 
before the sdance above described. Nikolaus, Michael’s brother, was then a 
student at the Technological Institute. 

Mrs. von Wiesler and her daughter were aware of these circumstances, for 
they had long been acquainted with Schura’s ” parents, and with those of her 
cousins, who belong to the best society of St. Petersburg. It will be obvious 
that I cannot publish the names of these families. I have also changed those 
of the young people. The acquaintanceship was, however, far from being 
intimate. They saw each other occasionally, but nothing more. Later I will 
give further details. We will now continue our narrative. 

Naturally, neither Mrs. von Wiesler nor her daughter knew anything as to 
the views or secret conduct of Nikolaus. The communication was just as 
unexpected as it was important. It involved a great responsibility. Sophie’s 
position was a very difficult one. The literal carrying out of “ Schura’s ” 
demands was, for a young lady, simply impossible, merely from considerations 
of social propriety. What right could she have, on the ground of simple 
acquaintanceship, to interfere in family affairs of so delicate a character? 



CHAPTER VIII 


i8o 


[875 


Besides, it might not be true; or, quite simply and most probably, Nikolaus 
might deny it. What position would she then find herself in? Mrs. von 
Wiesler knew only too well, from the stances she had taken part in with me, 
how little dependence can be placed on Spiritualistic communications. She 
counselled her daughter, in the first place, to convince herself of Schura's ” 
identity. This advice was followed without any hesitation as one way out of 
the difficulty. 

On the following Tuesday “Schura ” manifested at once, and Sophie asked 
for a proof of her identity, to which “ Schura ” forthwith replied 
Invite Nikolaus, arrange a seance, and I will come.” 

It will be seen from this reply that “ Schura,” who during her life had 
learnt to despise the conventionalities of society, as is the custom among the 
Socialists, remained true to her character, and again demanded what was an 
impossibility. Nikolaus had never been in Mrs. von Wiesler’s house. Sophie 
then asked for another proof of her identity, without Nikolaus being brought 
in at all, and requested that it might be a convincing one. 

“ I will appear to thee,” was the reply. 

‘^How?” 

“Thou wilt see.” 

A few days later Sophie was returning home from a soirde ; it was nearly 
4 A.M. She was just retiring, and was at the door between her bedroom and 
the dining-room, there being no lights in the latter, when she saw on the wall 
of the dining-room, in 'sight of the door at which she stood, a luminous round 
spot, with, as it were, shoulders. This lasted for two or three seconds, and dis- 
appeared, ascending towards the ceiling. Sophie immediately assured herself 
that it was not the reflection of any light coming from the street. 

At the sdance on the following Tuesday, an explanation of this appearance 
being asked for, “ Schura ” replied : — 

“ It was the outline of a head with shoulders. I cannot appear more dis- 
tinctly. I am still weak.” 

Many other details, which I have passed over, tended to convince Sophie of 
the reality of “ Schura’s ” identity, yet she could not bring herself to carry out 
that which “ Schura ” desired her to do. She therefore proposed as a suit- 
able compromise that she should acquaint Nikolaus’s parents with what had 
occurred. 

This proposal aroused “Schura’s” strongest displeasure, expressed by 
violent movements of the saucer, and by the sentence 

“ That will lead to nothing ; ’’—after which disparaging epithets followed, 
impossible to repeat here, especially applicable to persons of weak and irreso- 
lute character, with whom the energetic and decisive “ Schura ” had no patience 
— epithets which are not found in dictionaries, but which were expressions used 
by “ Schura” in her lifetime, and characteristic of her. This was confirmed in 
the sequel. 

Nevertheless Sophie continued to hesitate, and at each successive sdance 
“ Schura ” insisted more and more imperatively that Sophie must act at once. 
This is very important to notice, as we shall see later. This want of resolution 
on the part of Sophie was ascribed by “ Schura ” to the influence of Mrs. von 
Wiesler. From the beginning “ Schura” had seemed to bear a grudge against 
Mrs. von Wiesler. From the first stance she addressed Sophie only. She 
never permitted Mrs. von Wiesler to ask a question. Whenever she attempted 



875] MOTOR AUTOMATISM i8i 

to do so, she met her with a — “ Be silent—be silent ! ” Whereas in addressing 
Sophie she overwhelmed her with the tenderest expressions. 

How great was the astonishment and consternation of the ladies, when at 
the stance on the 26th of February the first words were : — 

“ It is too late. Thou wilt repent it bitterly. The pangs of remorse will 
follow thee. Expect his arrest 1 

These were *^Schura*s” last words. From this time she was silent. A 
sdance was attempted on the following Tuesday, but there was no result. The 
stances of Mrs. von Wiesler and her daughter were from that time entirely 
given up. 

While these stances were being held, Mrs. von Wiesler naturally kept me 
informed of what transpired, and consulted with me as to what was to be done 
in view of the extraordinary character of ‘^Schura’s” requests. Some time 
after they had ceased Mrs. von Wiesler, to satisfy her own conscience and to 
comfort her daughter, resolved to communicate the whole episode to the parents 
of Nikolaus. They paid no attention to it. Nothing was elicited that any fault 
could be found with. The family were quite satisfied in regard to Nikolaus’s 
conduct. But it is important to bear in mind the fact that these Spiritualistic 
communications were made known to the parents before the final issue. When 
during the remainder of the year ever3rthing went on happily, Sophie became 
fully convinced that all the communications were only lies, and formed a resolu- 
tion that she would never again occupy herself with Spiritualistic stances. 

Another year passed without any special event. But on the 9th of March, 
1887, the secret police suddenly searched Nikolaus’s rooms. He was arrested 
in his own house, and within twenty-four hours was exiled from St Petersburg. 
It came out later that his crime was taking part in anarchical assemblies — 
assemblies which were held in the months of January and February 1885, exactly 
corresponding with the time when “ Schura” was insisting that steps should 
then be taken to dissuade Nikolaus from taking part in such meetings. Only 
now were the communications of “ Schura ” estimated at their true value. The 
notes which Mrs. von Wiesler had made were read again and again by the 
families both of “ Schura” and of Nikolaus. “Schura’s ” identity in all those 
manifestations was recognised as incontestably demonstrated, in the first place, 
by the main fact in relation to Nikolaus, by other intimate particulars, and also 
by the totality of the features which characterised her personality. This 
mournful occurrence fell like a fresh thunderclap on Nikolaus’s family, and 
they had only to thank God that the errors of the young man were not 
followed by more fatal results. 

In order to estimate this incident aright, it is of great importance to establish 
the relations which existed between the two young ladies. I have requested 
Madame and Mdlle. von Wiesler to give me on this, as on the previous points, 
a written memorandum in full detail ; and from that memorandum I extract 
what follows [somewhat abridged here] : — 

In December 1880 Madame von Wiesler and her daughter paid a Christ- 
mas visit to ** Schura’s ” grandfather, Senator N., where Sophie saw “ Schura” 
for the first time. Sophie was then about thirteen years old, and “ Schura ” even 
younger. Sophie was astonished to see “ Schura’s ” writing-table covered with 
books [and had a talk with her about favourite authors]. The two girls often 
saw each other at a distance in the recreation-room of their school during the 
winter, but “ Schura” was soon transferred to another school. [They met once 



CHAPTER VIII 


182 


[876 


at a country-house without exchanging a word, and saw each other once across 
a theatre. Sophie, in fact, had had one childish talk with Schura ** ; Madame 
von Wiesler had never had any real talk with her.] Hence it is clear that the 
relations of these ladies with “ Schura ” were of the most distant kind, and that 
they could not know anything of her political secrets. 

876. I now give a case which in one respect stands alone. It 
narrates the success of a direct experiment, — a test-message planned before 
death, and communicated after death, by a man who held that the hope 
of an assurance of continued presence was worth at least a resolute effort, 
whatever its result might be. His tests, indeed, were two, and both were 
successful. One was the revealing of the place where, before death, he 
hid a piece of brick marked and broken for special recognition, and the 
other was the communication of the contents of a short letter which he^ 
wrote and sealed before death. We may say that the information was 
certainly not possessed supraliminally by any living person. I give two 
other cases in 876 A and B where information given through automatists 
may hypothetically be explicable by telepathy from the living, although, 
indeed, in my own view it probably emanated from the deceased as 
alleged. In one of these cases the place where a missing will had been 
hidden was revealed to the automatist, but it is not clear whether the will 
was actually discovered or not before the automatic writing was obtained 
(although the automatist was unaware of its discovery), and in any case, 
apparently, its whereabouts was known to some living person who had 
hidden it, and may not have been known to the deceased before death. 

In the other case the whereabouts of a missing note of hand was 
revealed to the automatists, and even if this could be regarded as 
absolutely unknown supraliminally to any living person, it is not by any 
means certain that the fact was known before death to the deceased 
person from whom the message purported to come. 

These cases, therefore, are not such strong evidence for personal 
identity as the one to which I have referred above, and which I now give, 
as recording what purports to be the successful accomplishment of an 
experiment which every one may make ; — which every one ought to make ; 
— for, small as may be the chances of success, a few score of distinct 
successes would establish a presumption of man’s survival which the 
common sense of mankind would refuse to explain away. If accepted, 
the incident shows a continued perception on the part of the deceased of 
the efforts made by friends to communicate with him. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 248-51.) ^ 

1 An account of this case appeared in an article by Herman Snow in the Rdigio- 
Philosophical for January 31st, 1891, and Mr. Snow also sent us an earlier 

article on the subject which he had written in 1881, and of which his second account 
was a mere repetition. The facts were related to him by the Unitarian minister of the 
place where Mrs. Finney lived ; and this third-hand account recorded by Mr. Snow 
fifteen years after the event closely coincides with Mrs, Finney^s first-hand one, 
recorded twenty-five years after the event. 



876] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 183 

The following letters were received from the principal witness, Mrs. 
Finney : — 


Rockland, Mass., April 1891. 

Mr. Hodgson, — Dear Sir, — Some weeks ago I received from you a few 
lines asking me to give you an account of the communication received from 
Cousin Benja in spirit-life, some twenty-five years ago. 

For weeks and months before my brother left the form we conversed freely 
on the subject of spirit communion and such matters, and one morning he 
requested me to bring him a small piece of brick, also pen and ink; he then 
made two marks on one side, and one on the other with the ink, then breaking 
the brick in two, gave me one piece, telling me at the time to take care of it, 
and some day he would hide the other piece away where no one but himself 
would know, and after leaving the form, if possible, would return in some way 
and tell me where it was. I could then compare them together, and it would 
be a test that he could return and communicate, and my mind could not have 
any influence over it, as I did not know where he put it, 

After he left the form our anxiety was very great to hear and learn all we 
could of communicating with spirits, and for months we got nothing satis- 
factory. 

We then commenced sitting at the table at home (mother and myself), 
which we did for some little time ; at last it commenced tipping, and by calling 
the alphabet spelled out where we could find the piece of brick that he put 
away, — that was the way we got the test. To us that was truth that spirits can 
and do communicate with us, and nothing but the influence and power of Benja 
could tell us that test. — Truly yours, Mrs. Wm. A. Finnev. 

Rockland, May 'yrd, 1891. 

Mr. R. Hodgson, — Dear Sir, — Yours of April 21st received, and I will 
add a few more lines as to statement of brother Benja’s communication. 

By calling the alphabet we spelled out : — 

“ You will find that piece of brick in the cabinet under the tomahawk. — 
Benja.” 

I went to that room and took the key, unlocked the cabinet, which had not 
been touched by any one after he locked it and put away the key. There I 
found that piece of brick just as it had spelled out, and it corresponded with the 
i:)iece I had retained, fitting on exactly where he broke it oS the piece I had. 
It was wrapped in a bit of paper and tucked into a shell, and placed in the 
bottom of the cabinet exactly under the tomahawk, as was spelled out by the 
alphabet. 

This is truth, and no power but Benja’s could tell that. 

Mother is not living; I am the only one of the family that is living.— 
Yours respectfully, Mrs. Wm. A. Finney. 

Rockland, May wth, 1891. 

Mr. R. Hodgson,— Dear Sir,— Yours of 6 th received. I will continue 
to say, in answer to your questions, that the piece of brick was entirely con- 
cealed in the shell, so that it could not be seen from outside of cabinet. It 
was wrapped in a piece of paper stuck together with mucilage and tucked into 
the end of the shell, then a piece of paper gummed over that, so that nothing 
was visible from the shell. The shell was on the lower shelf of the cabinet, and 
only the top of the shell was visible outside the cabinet 



1 84 


CHAPTER VIII 


[876 

One more little incident I will mention, for to me it is as valuable as the 
other. He wrote me a letter (about the time he gave me the piece of brick) 
and sealed it, saying at the time it was not to be answered, but the contents of 
the letter to be told. I got that in the same way I did the other, by calling the 
alphabet and the table tipping. It was these words : — 

Julia ! do right and be happy. — B enja.” 

That was correct. Just the contents of my letter. I have no particular 
objection as to giving my name, for I have stated nothing but the truth. 

At my home in Kingston I have that little shell with the piece of brick, and 
if you would like them I will send them to you. Will place the brick into the 
shell as it was when I found it. Of course, the paper that was around it then is 
worn out years ago. The cabinet is disposed of. Julia A. Finney. 

Mrs. Finney further writes : — 

Rockland, 1891. 

I send you by express a box containing the letter and shell with the piece 
of brick- I have placed one piece in the shell just as it was when I found it, 
so you can see how nicely it was concealed in the shell. The papers that were 
around it then are worn out. You can retain them if you like, as I do not care 
for them now. 

To me it is a positive truth that he did communicate to us, and our minds 
could have nothing to do with it. J. A. Finney. 

Rockland, / w/j' 19M, 1891. 

. . . The shell was placed on the same shelf with the tomahawk, and 
no other shells on that shelf. It was placed with the open side down, and the 
tomahawk stood directly over it. I cannot say why he did not tell us to look 
inside of the shell. We started to look as soon as he told us. It was in the 
cabinet under the tomahawk. We did not wait for any more to be said. 

I am not intimately acquainted with many public people. As to my 
integrity, will refer you to Rev. C. Y. de Normandie, of Kingston. 

J. A. Finney. 

Dr. Hodgson writes : — 

The shell is a large Triton, about ten inches long. The piece of brick was 
wrapped in folds of soft paper and tucked deeply into the recess. Another 
piece of paper was then gummed around the sides of the shell in the interior, 
so as absolutely to prevent the piece of brick from falling out. When I 
received the shell from Mrs. Finney and looked into the interior and shook the 
shell violently, there was nothing to indicate that the shell contained anything 
but the piece of gummed paper. 

The piece of brick in the shell weighs one and a half ounces, and the piece 
of brick retained by Mrs. Finney weighs about two and a quarter ounces. The 
shell with the piece of brick and paper wrapping weighs about eleven and a 
half ounces. 

Mrs- Finney also forwarded me the letter written by her brother. The 
shell and the pieces of brick and the letter are now all in my possession. 

R. Hodgson. 

We have a letter (in original) from the Rev. C. Y. de Normandie, of 
Kingston, Canada, to Mrs. Finney. “ I expressed then,” he says, speaking of 
a former note to Dr. Hodgson, which accidentally went astray, “ that to the best 



878] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 185 

knowledge I had of you and to my firm belief your word could be implicitly 
relied on. I felt confident that you would state a matter as you understood it, 
as you regarded it, without reference to the consequences ; and that you would 
not be any more likely to be misled and deceived about a matter of that kind 
than others similarly situated.” 

877. The experiment which was in this case successful is one (I 
repeat) which might be tried ^y everybody (see 877 A). And I may add 
the remark that it is to experiment with automatic writing, crystal-vision, 
&c., rather than to spontaneous apparitions, that we must look for any 
real information as to the degree in which departed spirits retain their 
knowledge of the things of earth. 

Once more I must express my astonishment and regret that amongst 
some tens — perhaps hundreds — of thousands of persons, scattered over 
many countries, who already believe that the road of communication 
between the two worlds is open, there should be so very few who can or 
will make any serious effort to obtain fresh evidence of so important a 
fact. But, quite apart from the Spiritist camp, there are now many 
inquirers who know that automatic writing is a real fact in nature, and 
who are willing to discuss with an open mind the origin of any message 
which may thus be given. Let these set themselves to the task, and the 
result of organised and intelligent effort will soon, as I believe, be made 
plain. 

For aught that we can tell, there may be — I believe that there are — 
collaborators elsewhere who only await our appeal. Why should not 
every death-bed be made the starting-point of a long experiment? And 
why should not every friend who sails forth kwvcdv virep 'Hpa/cX&s — into 
the unknown sea — endeavour to send us news from that bourne from 
which few travellers, perhaps, have as yet made any adequate or systematic 
preparation to return? 

878. Here, then, let us pause and consider to what point the 
evidence contained in this chapter has gradually led us. We shall per- 
ceive that the motor phenomena have confirmed, and have also greatly 
extended, the results to which the cognate sensory phenomena had 
already pointed. We have already noted, in each of the two states of 
sleep and of waking, the variously expanding capacities of the subliminal 
self. We have watched a hyperaasthetic intensification of ordinary faculty, 
— leading up to telsesthesia, and to telepathy from the living and from the 
departed. Along with these powers, which, on the hypothesis of the 
sou?s independent existence, are at least within our range of analogical 
conception, we have noted also a precognitive capacity of a type which no 
fact as yet known to science will help us to explain. 

Proceeding to the study of motor automatisms, we have found a fMrd 
group of cases which independently confirm in each of these lines in turn 
the results of our analysis of sensory automatisms both in sleep and 
in waking. Evidence thus convergent will already need no ordinary 



CHAPTER VIII 


i86 


[879 


boldness of negative assumption if it is to be set aside. But motor auto- 
matisms have taught us much more than this. At once more energetic and 
more persistent than the sensory, they oblige us to face certain problems 
which the lightness and fugitiveness of sensory impressions allowed us in 
some measure to evade. Thus when we discussed the mechanism (so to 
call it) of visual and auditory phantasms, two competing conceptions 
presented themselves for our choice, — the conception of telepathic impact^ 
and the conception of psychical invasion. Either (we said) there was an 
influence exerted by the agent on the percipient’s mind, which so stimu- 
lated the sensory tracts of his brain that he externalised that impression 
as a quasi-percept, or else the agent in some way modified an actual 
portion of space where (say) an apparition was discerned, perhaps by 
several percipients at once. 

Phrased in this manner, the telepathic impact seemed the less startling, 
the less extreme hypothesis of the two, — mainly, perhaps, because the 
picture which it called up was left so vague and obscure. But now 
instead of a fleeting hallucination we have to deal with a strong and 
lasting impulse — such, for instance, as the girl’s impulse to write, in 
Dr. Li^beault’s case (866) : — an impulse which seems to come from 
the depths of the being, and which (like a post-hypnotic suggestion) may 
over-ride even strong disinclination, and keep the automatist uncomfort- 
able until it has worked itself out. We may still call this a telepathic 
impact, if we will, but we shall find it hard to distinguish that term from a 
psychical invasion. This strong, yet apparently alien, motor innervation 
corresponds in fact as closely as possible to our idea of an invasion — an 
invasion no longer of the room only in which the percipient is sitting, 
but of his own body and his own powers. It is an invasion which, if 
sufficiently prolonged, would become a possession ; and it both unites and 
intensifies those two earlier conjectures ; — of telepathic impact on the per- 
cipient’s mind, and of phantasmogenetic presence” in the percipient’s 
surroundings. What seemed at first a mere impact is tending to become 
a persistent control ; what seemed an incursion merely into the percipient’s 
environment has become an incursion into his organism itself. 

879. As has been usual in this inquiry, this slight forward step 
from vagueness to comparative clearness of conception introduces us at 
once to a whole series of novel problems. Yet, as we have also learnt to 
expect, some of our earlier phenomena may have to be called in with 
advantage to illustrate phenomena more advanced. 

In cases of split personality, to begin with, we have seen just the same 
phenomena occurring where certainly no personality was concerned save 
the percipient’s own. We have seen a section of the subliminal self 
partially or temporarily dominating the organism ; perhaps (as in Anna 
Winsor’s case, 237 A) controlling permanently one arm alone ; or perhaps 
controlling intermittently the whole nervous system; — and all this with 
varying degrees of displacement of the primary personality. 



880] MOTOR AUTOMATISM 187 

Similarly with post-hypnotic suggestion. We have seen the subliminal 
self ordered to write (say) It has left off raining ” — and thereupon writing 
the words without the conscious will of the automatist — and again with 
varying degrees of displacement of the waking self. The step hence to 
such a case as Mrs. Newnham’s (849 A) is thus not a very long one. 
Mrs. Newnham’s subliminal self, exercising supernormal faculty, and by 
some effort of its own, acquires certain facts from Mr. Newnham^s mind, 
and uses her hand to write them down automatically. The great problem 
here introduced is how the subliminal self acquires the facts, rather than 
how it succeeds in writing them down when it has once acquired them. 

But as we go further we can no longer limit the problem in this 
way, — to the activities of the automatist’s subliminal self. We cannot 
always assume that some portion of the automatist’s personality gets at the 
supernormal knowledge by some effort of its own. Our evidence, as we 
know, has pointed decisively to telepathic impacts or influences from 
without. In the Kirby case (852), for instance, we have supposed that the 
spirit of the sleeping sister affected the brother by a telepathic impact, from 
without^ which worked itself out by automatic movements just like those 
automatic movements which we have already described as originating 
wholly from within. What, then, is the mechanism here? Are we still 
to suppose that the automatist’s subliminal self executes the movements — 
obeying somehow the bidding of the impulse from without? or does the 
external’ agent, who sends the telepathic message, himself execute the 
movements also, directly using the automatist’s arm? And if telekinetic 
movements accompany the message, (a subject thus far deferred, but of 
prime importance), are we to suppose that these also are effected by the 
percipient’s subliminal self, under the guidance of some external spirit, 
incarnate or discarnate? or are they effected directly by that external 
spirit? 

880. We cannot really say which of these two is the easier 
hypothesis. 

From one point of view it may seem simpler to keep as long as we 
can to that acknowledged vera causa, the automatist’s subliminal self ; and 
to collect such observations as may indicate any power on its part of pro- 
ducing physical effects outside the organism. Such scattered observations 
occur at every stage, and even Mrs. Newnham, (I may briefly observe in 
passing), thought that her pencil, when writing down the messages tele- 
pathically derived from her husband, was moved by something other than 
the ordinary muscular action of the fingers which held it. On the other 
hand, there seems something very forced in attributing to an external 
spirit’s agency impulses and impressions which seem intimately the auto- 
matist’s own, and at the same time refusing to ascribe to that external 
agency phenomena which take place outside the automatist’s organism, 
and which present themselves to him as objective facts, as much outside 
his own being as the fall of the apple to the ground. 



i88 


CHAPTER VIII 


Reflecting on such points— and once admitting this kind of interaction 
between the automatist’s own spirit and an external spirit, incarnate or 
discarnate — we find the possible combinations presenting themselves in 
perplexing variety a variety both of agencies on the part of the invading 
spirit, and of effects on the part of the invaded spirit and organism. 

What is that which invades? and what is that which is displaced or 
superseded by this invasion? In what ways may two spirits co-operate 
in the possession and control of the same organism? 

These last words — control and possession— remind us of the great 
mass of vague tradition and belief to the effect that spirits of the departed 
may exercise such possession or control over the living. To those ancient 
and vague beliefs it will be our task in the next chapter to give a form as 
exact and stable as we can. And observe with how entirely novel a 
preparation of mind we now enter on that task. The examination of 
“ possession ” is no longer to us, as to the ordinary civilised inquirer, a 
merely antiquarian or antliropological research into forms of superstition 
lying wholly apart fi:om any valid or systematic thought. On the contrary, 
it is an inquiry directly growing out of previous evidence ; directly needed 
for the full comprehension of known facts as well as for the discovery of 
facts unknown. We need (so to say), to analyse the spectrum of helium, 
as detected in the sun, in order to check and correct our spectrum of 
helium as detected in the Bath waters. We are obliged to seek for certain 
definite phenomena in the spiritual world in order to explain certain 
definite phenomena of the world of matter. 



CHAPTER IX 

TRANCE, POSSESSION AND ECSTASY 

Vicit iter durum pietas. 

—Virgil. 

900 . The appearance of this book has been delayed for several years 
by several causes, of which it is to be feared that the chief has been that 
cause which the gods call Sheer Indolence, and men the Pressure of 
Occupation. What evil may have resulted from the long deferment it is 
not for the author to say. What counterbalancing good there may have 
accrued ought to be manifest in the following chapter. For it is in this 
chapter that the main difference lies between what I should have written 
ten years ago, and what it seems to me not only permissible, but even 
urgently necessary to write to-day. It is in what must needs be said about 
Possession that the great change has come. 

Possession^ to define it for the moment in the narrowest way, is a more 
developed form of Motor Automatism. The difference broadly is, that in 
Possession the automatist’s own personality does for the time altogether 
disappear, while there is a more or less complete substitution of personality ; 
writing or speech being given by a spirit through the entranced organism. 
The change which has come over this branch of evidence since the present 
work was first projected, in 1888, is most significant. There existed 
indeed, at that date, a good deal of evidence which pointed in this 
direction,^ but for various reasons most of that evidence was still possibly 
explicable in other ways. Even the phenomena of Mr. W. S. Moses left 
it possible to argue that the main '' controls ” under which he wrote or 
spoke when entranced were self-suggestions of his own mind, or phases of 
his own deeper personality. I had not then had the opportunity, which 
the kindness of his executors after his death afforded to me, of studying 
the whole series of his original note-books, and forming at first-hand my 
present conviction that spiritual agency was an actual and important 
element in that long sequence of communications. On the whole, I did 
not then anticipate that the theory of possession could be presented as 
more than a plausible speculation, or as a supplement to other lines of 
proof of man*s survival of death. 

^ The cases of Swedenborg, Cahagnet's subject, D. D.Home, and Staintou Moses 
will be discussed in the course of this chapter. 

X89 



190 CHAPTER IX [901 

The position of things, as the reader of the S.P.R. Proceedings knows, 
has in the last decade undergone a complete change. The trance- 
phenomena of Mrs. Piper — so long and so carefully watched by Dr. 
Hodgson and others — formed, I think, by far the most remarkable mass 
of psychical evidence till then adduced in any quarter. And more 
recently other series of trance-phenomena with other ''mediums’’ — 
though still incomplete — have added materially to the evidence obtained 
through Mrs. Piper. The result broadly is that these phenomena of 
possession are now the most amply attested, as well as intrinsically the 
most advanced, in our whole repertory. 

901. Nor, again, is the mere increment of direct evidence, important 
though that is, the sole factor in the changed situation. Not only has 
direct evidence grown, but indirect evidence, so to say, has moved to 
meet it. The notion of personality, — of the control of organism by spirit, 
— has gradually been so modified that Possession, which passed till the 
other day as a mere survival of savage thought, is now seen to be the 
consummation, the furthest development, of many lines of experiment, 
observation, reflection, which the preceding chapters have opened to our 
view. 

Let us then at once consider what the notion of possession does 
actually claim. It will be better to face that claim in its full extent at 
once, as it will be seen that the evidence, while rising through various 
stages, does in the end insist on all that the ancient term implies. The 
leading modem cases, of which Stainton Moses and Mrs. Piper may 
be taken as types, are closely analogous, presenting many undesigned 
coincidences, some of which come out only on close examination. 

The claim, then, is that the automatist, in the first place, falls into a 
trance, during which his spirit partially " quits his body ” : enters at any 
rate into a state in which the spiritual world is more or less open to its 
perception ; and in which also — and this is the novelty — it so far ceases 
to occupy the organism as to leave room for an invading spirit to use it in 
somewhat the same fashion as its owner is accustomed to use it. 

The brain being thus left temporarily and partially uncontrolled, a 
disembodied spirit sometimes, but not always, succeeds in occupying it ; 
and occupies it with varying degrees of control. In some cases (Mrs. 
Piper) two or more spirits may simultaneously control different portions of 
the same organism. 

The controlling spirit proves his identity mainly by reproducing, in 
speech or writing, facts which belong to his memory and not to the 
automatist’s memory. He may also give evidence of supernormal per- 
ception of other kinds. 

His manifestations may differ very considerably from the automatist’s 
normal personality. Yet in one sense it is a process of selection rather 
than of addition \ the spirit selects what parts of the brain- machinery he 
will use, but he cannot get out of that machinery more than it is con- 



902] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 191 

structed to perform. The spirit can indeed produce facts and names 
unknown to the automatist ; but they must be, as a rule, such facts and 
names as the automatist could easily have repeated, had they been known 
to him : — not, for instance, mathematical formulae or Chinese sentences, if 
the automatist is ignorant of mathematics or of Chinese. 

After a time the control gives way, and the automatist’s spirit returns. 
The automatist, awaking, may or may not remember his experiences in 
the spiritual world during the trance. In some cases (Swedenborg) there 
is this memory of the spiritual world, but no possession of the organism 
by an external spirit. In others (Cahagnet’s subject) there is utterance 
during the trance as to what is being discerned by the automatist, yet no 
memory thereof on waking. In others (Mrs. Piper) there is neither utter- 
ance as a rule, or at least no prolonged utterance, by the automatist’s own 
spirit, nor subsequent memory ; but there is writing or utterance during 
the trance by controlling spirits. 

902. Now this seems a strange doctrine to have reached after so 
much disputation. For it simply brings us back to the creeds of the 
Stone Age. We have come round again to the primitive practices of the 
shaman and the medicine-man; — to a doctrine of spiritual intercourse 
which was once oecumenical, but has now taken refuge in African swamps 
and Siberian tundras and the snow-clad wastes of the Red Indian and the 
Esquimaux. If, as is sometimes advised, we judge of the worth of ideas 
by tracing their origins, no conception could start from a lower level of 
humanity. It might be put out of court at once as unworthy of civilised 
men. 

Fortunately, however, our previous discussions have supplied us with 
a somewhat more searching criterion. Instead of asking in what age a 
doctrine originated— with the implied assumption that the more recent 
it is, the better — we can now ask how far it is in accord or in discord 
with a great mass of actual recent evidence which comes into contact, 
in one way or another, with nearly every belief as to an unseen world 
which has been held at least by western men. Submitted to this test, 
the theory of possession gives a remarkable result. It cannot be said 
to be inconsistent with any of our proved facts. We know absolutely 
nothing which negatives its possibility. 

Nay, more than this. The theory of possession actually supplies us 
with a powerful method of co-ordinating and explaining many earlier 
groups of phenomena, if only we will consent to explain them in a way 
which at first sight seemed extreme in its assumptions — seemed unduly 
prodigal of the marvellous. Yet as to that diiSficulty we have learnt by 
this time that no explanation of psychical phenomena is really simple, and 
that our best clue is to get hold of some group which seems to admit of 
one interpretation only, and then to use that group as a point de repere 
from which to attack more complex problems. 

Now I think that the Moses-Piper group of trance-phenomena cannot 



192 


CHAPTER IX 


[903 

be intelligently explained on any theory except that of possession. And 
I therefore think it important to consider in what way earlier phenomena 
have led up to possession, and in what way the facts of possession, in their 
turn, affect our view of these earlier phenomena. 

If we analyse our observations of possession, we find two main factors 
— the central operation, which is the control by a spirit of the sensitive’s 
organism; and the indispensable prerequisite, which is the partial and 
temporary desertion of that organism by the percipient’s own spirit 

Let us consider first how far this withdrawal of the living man’s spirit 
from his organism has been rendered conceivable by evidence already 
obtained. 

903. First of all, the splits, and substitutions of phases of personality 
with which our second chapter made us familiar have great significance 
ioi possession also. 

We have there seen some secondary personality, beginning with slight 
and isolated sensory and motor manifestations, yet going on gradually 
to complete predominance, — complete control of all supraliminal mani- 
festation. 

The mere collection and description of such phenomena has up till 
now savoured of a certain boldness. The idea of tracing the possible 
mechanism involved in these transitions has scarcely arisen. 

Yet it is manifest that there must be a complex set of laws concerned 
with such alternating use of brain-centres; — developments, one may 
suppose, of those unknown physical laws underlying ordinary memory, 
of which no one has formed as yet even a first rough conception. 

An ordinary case of ecmnesia may present problems as insoluble in 
their way as those offered by spirit-possession itself. There may be in 
ecmnesia periods of life absolutely and permanently extruded from 
memory j and there may be also periods which are only temporarily thus 
extruded. Thus on Wednesday and Thursday I may be unaware of 
what I learnt and did on Monday and Tuesday ; and then on Friday I 
may recover Monday’s and Tuesday’s knowledge, as well as retaining 
Wednesday’s and Thursday’s, so that my brain-cells have taken on, so to 
say, two separate lines of education since Sunday — that which began on 
Monday, and that which began on Wednesday. These intercurrent 
educations may have been naturally discordant, and may be fused in all 
kinds of ways in the ultimate synthesis. 

These processes are completely obscure ; and all that can be said is 
that their mechanism probably belongs to the same unknown series of 
operations which ultimately lead to that completest break in the history 
of the brain-cells which consists in their intercalary occupation by an 
external spirit. 

904. Passing on to genius^ which I discussed in my third chapter, 
it is noticeable that there also there is a certain degree of temporary 
substitution of one control for another over important brain-centres. 



906 ] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 193 

We must here regard the subliminal self as an entity partially distinct 
from the supraliminal, and its occupation of these brain-centres habitually 
devoted to supraliminal work is a kind of possession, which illustrates in 
yet another way the rapid metastasis of psychical product (so to term it) 
of which these highest centres are capable. The highest genius would 
thus be the completest seff-possession , — the occupation and dominance 
of the whole organism by those profoundest elements of the self which 
act from the fullest knowledge, and in the wisest way. 

. 905. The next main subject which fell under our description was 
sleep. And this state — the normal state which most resembles trance — 
has long ago suggested the question which first hints at the possibility of 
ecstasy, namely, What becomes of the soul during sleep? I think that 
our evidence has shown that sometimes during apparent ordinary sleep 
the spirit may travel away from the body, and may bring back a memory, 
more or less confused, of what it has seen in this clairvoyant excursion. 
This may indeed happen for brief flashes during waking moments also. 
But ordinary sleep seems to help the process ; and deeper states of sleep 
— spontaneous or induced — seem still further to facilitate it. In the 
coma preceding death, or during that suspended animation which is 
sometimes taken for death, this travelling faculty has seemed to reach its 
highest point. 

906. I have spoken of deeper states of sleep, ^^spontaneous or in- 
duced,” and here the reader will naturally recall much that has been said 
of ordinary somnambulism, much that has been said of hypnotic trance. 
Hypnotic trance has created for us, with perfect facility, situations ex- 
ternally indistinguishable from what I shall presently claim as' true 
possession. A quasi-personality, arbitrarily created, may occupy the 
organism, responding to speech or sign in some characteristic fashion, 
although without producing any fresh verifiable facts as evidence to the 
alleged identity. Nay sometimes, as in a few of the Pesaro experiments, 
(see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 563-565), there may be indications that 
something of a new personality is there. And on the other hand, the 
sensitive’s own spirit often claims to have been absent elsewhere, — much 
in the fashion in which it sometimes imagines itself to have been absent 
during ordinary sleep, but with greater persistence and lucidity. 

Our inquiry into the nature of what is thus alleged to be seen in sleep 
and cognate states has proved instructive. Sometimes known earthly 
scenes appear to be revisited — with only such alteration as may have 
taken place since the sleeper last visited them in waking hours. But 
sometimes also there is an admixture of an apparently symbolical element. 
The earthly scene includes some element of human action, which is pre- 
sented in a selected or abbreviated fashion, as though some mind had 
been concerned to bring out a special significance from the complex 
story. Sometimes this element becomes quite dominant; phantasmal 
figures are seen ; or (as in Dr. Wiltse’s case of apparent death, 713 A) there 

VOL. n. N 



CHAPTER IX 


194 


[906 


may be a prolonged symbolical representation of an entry into the spiritual 
world. 

Cases like these do of course apparently support that primitive doc- 
trine of the spirit’s actual wandering in space. On the other hand, this 
notion has become unwelcome to modern thought, which is less unwilling 
to believe in some telepathic intercourse between mind and mind in 
which space is not involved. For my own part, I have already explained 
that 1 think that the evidence to an at least apparent movement of some 
kind in space must outweigh any mere speculative presumption against it. 
And I hold that these new experiences of possession fall on this contro- 
versy with decisive force. It is so strongly claimed, in every instance of 
possession, that the sensitive’s own spirit must in some sense vacate the 
organism, in order to allow another spirit to enter, — and the evidence for 
the reality of possession is at the same time so strong, — that I think that 
we must argue back from this spatial change as a relatively certain fact, 
and must place a corresponding interpretation on earlier phenomena, 
Sueh an interpretation, if once admitted, does certainly meet the phe- 
nomena in the way most accordant with the subjective impressions of the 
various percipients. 

As we have already repeatedly found, it is the bold evolutionary 
hypothesis which best fixes and colligates the scattered facts. We en- 
counter in these studies phenomena of degeneration and phenomena of 
evolution. The degenerative phenomena are explicable singly and in 
detail as declensions in divergent directions from an existing level. The 
evolutive phenomena point, on the other hand, to new generalisations ; — 
to powers previously unrecognised towards which our evidence converges 
along constantly multiplying lines. 

This matter of psychical excursion from the organism ultimately in- 
volves the extremest claim to novel faculty which has ever been advanced 
for men. For it involves, as we shall see, the claim to ecstasy : — to a 
wandering vision which is not confined to this earth or this material world 
alone, but introduces the seer into the spiritual world and among com- 
munities higher than any which this planet knows. The discussion of this 
transportation, however, will be better deferred until after the evidence for 
possession has been laid before the reader at some length. 

Continuing, then, for the present our analysis of the idea of possession, 
we come now to its specific feature,— ^the occupation by a spiritual agency 
of the entranced and partially vacated organism. Here it is that our 
previous studies will do most to clear our conceptions. Instead of at 
once leaping to the question of what spirits in their essence are, — of what 
they can do and cannot do, — of the antecedent possibility of their re-entry 
into matter, and the like, — we must begin by simply carrying the idea 
of telepathy to its furthest point. We must imagine telepathy becoming 
as central and as intense as possible; — and we shall find that of two 
diverging types of telepathic intercourse which will thus present them- 



908] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 195 

selves, the one will gradually correspond to possession, and the other 
to ecstasy. 

907. But here let us pause, and consider what is the truest conception 
which we are by this time able to form of telepathy. The word has been 
a convenient one ; the central notion — of communication beyond this 
range of sense — can at any rate thus be expressed in simple terms. But 
nevertheless there has been nothing to assure us that our real compre- 
hension of telepathic processes has got much deeper than that verbal 
definition. Our conception of telepathy, indeed, to say nothing of 
telsesthesia, has needed to be broadened with each fresh stage of our 
evidence. That evidence at first revealed to us certain transmissions of 
thoughts and images which suggested the passage of actual etherial vibra- 
tions from brain to brain. Nor indeed can any one say at any point of 
our evidence that etherial vibrations are demonstrably not concerned in 
the phenomena. We cannot tell how far from the material world (to use 
a crude phrase) some etherial agency may possibly extend. But tele- 
pathic phenomena are in fact soon seen to overpass any development 
which imaginative analogy can give to the conception of etherial radiation 
from one material point to another. 

For from the mere transmission of isolated ideas or pictures there is, 
as my readers know, a continuous progression to impressions and appari- 
tions far more persistent and complex. We encounter an influence which 
suggests no mere impact of etherial waves, but an intelligent and respon- 
sive presence^ resembling nothing so much as the ordinary human inter- 
course of persons in bodily nearness. Such visions or auditions, inward 
or externalised, are indeed sometimes felt to involve an even closer 
contact of spirits than the common intercourse of earth allows. One 
could hardly assign etherial undulations as their cause without assigning 
that same mechanism to all our emotions felt towards each other, or 
even to our control over our own organisms. 

Nay, more. There is — as I have striven to show — a further pro- 
gression from these telepathic intercommunications between living men 
to intercommunications between living men and discamate spirits. And 
this new thesis, — ^in every way of vital importance, — while practically 
solving one problem on which I have already dwelt, opens also a pos- 
sibility of the determination of another problem, nowise accessible until 
now. In the first place, we may now rest assured that telepathic com- 
munication is not necessarily propagated by vibrations proceeding from 
an ordinary material brain. For the discamate spirit at any rate has 
no such brain from which to start them. 

908, So much, in the first place, for the agents end of the com- 
munication. 

And in the second place, we now discern a possibility of getting 
at the percipients end; of determining whether the telepathic im- 
pact is received by the brain or by the spirit of the living man, 



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[909 


or by both inseparably, or sometimes by one and sometimes by the 
other. 

On this problem, I say, the phenomena of automatic script, of trance- 
utterance, of spirit-possession, throw more of light than we could have 
ventured to hope. 

Stated broadly, our trance-phenomena show us to begin with that 
several currents of communication can pass at once from discarnate 
spirits to a living man; — and can pass in very varying ways. For 
clearness’ sake I will put aside for the present all cases where the 
telepathic impact takes an externalised or sensory form, and will speak 
only of intellectual impressions and motor automatisms. 

Now these may pass through all grades of apparent centralily. If a 
man, awake and in other respects fully self-controlled, feels his hand 
impelled to scrawl words on a piece of paper, without consciousness of 
motor effort of his own^ the impulse does not seem to him a central one, 
although some part of his brain is presumably involved. On the other 
hand, a much less conspicuous invasion of his personality may feel much 
more central ; as, for instance, a premonition of evil, — an inward heavi- 
ness which he can scarcely define. Well, the motor automatism goes on 
until it reaches the point of possession ; — that is to say, until the man’s 
own consciousness is absolutely in abeyance, and every part of his body is 
utilised by the invading spirit or spirits. What happens in such condi- 
tions to the man’s ruling principle — to his own spirit — we must consider 
presently. But so far as his organism is concerned, the invasion seems 
complete : and it indicates a power which is indeed telepathic in a true 
sense; — yet not quite in the sense which we originally attached to the 
word. We first thought of telepathy as of a communication between two 
minds, whereas what we have here looks more like a communication 
between a mind and a body, — an external mind, in place of the mind 
which is accustomed to rule that particular body. 

There is in such a case no apparent communication between the 
discarnate mind and the mind of the automatist. Rather there is a kind 
of contact between the discarnate mind and the brain of the automatist, 
in so far that the discarnate mind, pursuing its own ends, is helped up to 
a certain point by the accumulated capacities of the automatist’s brain ; 
— and similarly is hindered by its incapacities. 

909. Yet here the most characteristic element of telepathy, I repeat, 
seems to have dropped out altogether. There is no perceptible com- 
munion between the mind of the entranced person and any other mind 
whatever. He is possessed^ but is kept in unconsciousness, and never 
regains memory of what his lips have uttered during his trance. 

But let us see whether we have thus grasped all the trance-phenomena ; 
— whether something else may not be going on, which is more truly, more 
centrally telepathic. 

To go back to the earliest stage of telepathic experience, we can see 



910] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 197 

well enough that the experimental process might quite possibly involve 
two different factors. The percipient’s mind must somehow receive the 
telepathic impression j — and to this reception we can assign no definite 
physical correlative ; — and also the percipient’s motor or sensory centres 
must receive an excitation ; — which excitation may be communicated, for 
aught we know, either by his own mind in the ordinary way, or by the 
agent’s mind in some direct way, — which I may call telergic^ thus giving a 
more precise sense to a word which I long ago suggested as a kind of 
correlative to telepathic. That is to say, there may even in these appa- 
rently simple cases be first a transmission from agent to percipient in the 
spiritual world, and then an action on the percipient’s physical brain, 
of the same type as spirit-possession. This action on the physical brain 
may be due either to the percipient’s own spirit, or subliminal self, or 
else directly to the agent’s spirit. For I must repeat that the phenomena 
of possession seem to indicate that the extraneous spirit acts on a man’s 
organism in very much the same way as the man’s own spirit habitually 
acts on it. One must thus practically regard the body as an instrument 
upon which a spirit plays; — an ancient metaphor which now seems 
actually our nearest approximation to truth. 

Proceeding to the case of telepathic or veridical apparitions, we see 
the same hints of a double nature in the process ; — traces of two elements 
mingling in various degrees. At the spiritual end there may be what we 
have called '' clairvoyant visions,” — pictures manifestly symbolical, and not 
located by the observer in ordinary three-dimensional space. These seem 
analogous to the views of the spiritual world which the sensitive enjoys 
during entrancement. Then comes that larger class of veridical apparitions 
where the figure seems to be externalised from the percipient’s mind, 
some stimulus having actually been applied, — whether by agent’s or 
percipient’s spirit, — to the appropriate brain-centre. These cases of 
sensory automatism ” resemble those experimental transferences of 
pictures of cards, &c. And beyond these again, on the physical or rather 
the ultra-physical side, come those collective apparitions which in my view 
involve some unknown kind of modification of a certain portion of space 
not occupied by any organism, — as opposed to a modification of centres 
in one special brain. Here comes in, as I hold, the gradual transition 
from subjective to objective, as the portion of space in question is modified 
in a manner to affect a larger and larger number of percipient minds. 

910. Now when we proceed from these apparitions of the living to 
apparitions of the departed, we find very much the same types persisting 
still. We find S3mibolical visions of departed persons, and of scenes 
among which they seem to dwell. We find externalised apparitions or 
phantasms of departed persons, — indicating that some point in the per- 
cipient’s brain has been stimulated by his own or by some other spirit. 
' And finally, as has already been said, we find that in certain cases of 
possession these two kinds of influence are simultaneously carried to an 



CHAPTER IX 


198 


[911 


extreme. The percipient automatist of earlier stages becomes no longer a 
percipient but an automatist pure and simple, — so far as his body is 
concerned, — for his whole brain — not one point alone — seems now to be 
stimulated and controlled by an extraneous spirit, and he is not himself 
aware of Tthat his body writes or utters. And meantime his spirit, 
partially set free from the body, may be purely percipient; — may be 
enjoying that other spiritual form of communication more completely than 
in any type of vision which our description had hitherto reached. 

911. This point attained, another analogy, already mentioned, will be 
at once recalled. There is another class of phenomena, besides telepathy, 
of which this definition of possession at once reminds us. We have 
dealt much with secondary personalities ^ — with severances and alternations 
affecting a man’s own spirit, in varying relation with his organism. 
F^lida X.’s developed secondary personality, for instance (231 A), might 
be defined as another fragment — or another synthesis — of Fdlida’s spirit 
acting upon her organism in much the same way as the original fragment 
— or the primary synthesis — of her spirit was wont to act upon it. 

Plainly, this analogy is close enough to be likely to lead to practical 
confusion. On what grounds can we base our distinctions? What 
justifies us in saying that F^lida X.’s organism was controlled only by 
another modification of her own personality, but that Mrs. Piper’s is con- 
trolled by George Pelham (959) ? May there not be any amount of self- 
suggestion, colouring with the fictitious hue of all kinds of identities what 
is in reality no more than an allotropic form of the entranced person 
himself? Is even the possession by the new personality of some frag- 
ments of fresh knowledge any proof of spirit-control? May not that 
knowledge be gained (as by L^onie B., see 230 A and 568 A) clairvoyantly 
or telepathically, with no intervention of any spirit other than of living 
men? 

Yes, indeed, we must reply, there is here a danger of confusion, there 
is a lack of any well-defined dividing line. While we must decide on 
general rules, we must also keep our minds open to possible ex- 
ceptions. 

On the negative side, indeed, general rules will carry us a good way. 
We must not allow ourselves to ascribe to spirit-control cases where no 
new knowledge is shown in the trance state. And this rule has at once 
an important consequence, — a consequence which profoundly modifies the 
antique idea of possession. I know of no evidence, — reaching in any 
way our habitual standard, — either for angelic, for diabolical, or for hostile 
possession. 

912. And here comes the question : What attitude are we to assume 
to savage cases of possession? Are we to accept as genuine the possession 
of the Esquimaux, the Chinaman,— nay, of the Hebrew of old days? 

Chinese possession is a good example, as described in Dr. Nevius’ 
book (an account of which by Professor Newbold I give in 912 A). 



913] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 199 

I agree with Professor Newbold in holding that no proof has been shown 
that there is more in the Chinese cases than that hysterical duplication 
of personality with which we are so familiar in France and elsewhere. 

A devil is not a creature whose existence is independently known to 
science ; and the accounts of the behaviour of the invading devils seems 
due to mere self-suggestion. With uncivilised races, even more than 
among our own friends, we are bound to insist on the rule that there must 
be some supernormal knowledge shown before we may assume an 
external influence. It may of course be replied that the character shown 
by the devils ” was fiendish and actually hostile to the possessed person. 
Can we suppose that the tormentor was actually a fraction of the 
tormented? 

I reply that such a supposition, so far from being absurd, is supported 
by well-known phenomena both in insanity and in mere hysteria. 

Especially in the Middle Ages, — amid powerful self-suggestions of evil 
and terror, — did these quasi-possessions reach an intensity and violence 
which the calm and sceptical atmosphere of the modern hospital checks 
and discredits. The devils with terrifying names which possessed Soeur 
Angdlique of Loudun (see 832 B) would at the Salpetri^re under Charcot 
in our days have figured merely as stages of clounisme ” and attitudes 
passionelles.” 

And even now these splits of personality seem occasionally to destroy 
all sympathy between the normal individual and a divergent fraction. No 
great sympathy was felt by Ldonie II. for L^onie I. (230 A). And 
Dr. Morton Prince’s case (234 A) shows us the deepest and ablest 
of the personalities of his '‘Miss Beauchamp,” positively spiteful in its 
relation to her main identity. 

Bizarre though a house thus divided against itself may seem, the 
moral dissidence is merely an exaggeration of the moral discontinuity 
already observable in the typical case of Mrs. Newnham (849 A). There 
the secondary intelligence was merely tricky, not malevolent. But its 
trickiness was wholly alien from Mrs. Newnham’s character, — ^was some- 
thing, indeed, which she would have energetically repudiated. 

913. It seems therefore, — and the analogy of dreams points in this 
direction also, — that our moral nature is as easily split up as our intellec- 
tual nature, and that we cannot be any more certain that the minor 
current of personality which is diverted into some new channel will 
retain moral than that it will retain intellectual coherence. 

To return once more to the Chinese devil-possessions. Dr. Nevius 
asserts, though without adducing definite proof, that the possessing devils 
sometimes showed supernormal knowledge. This is a better argument 
for their separate existence than their fiendish temper is ; but it is not in 
itself enough. The knowledge does not seem to have been specially 
appropriate to the supposed informing spirit. It seems as though it may 
have depended upon heightened memory, with possibly some slight tele- 



200 


CHAPTER IX 


[913 


pathic or telsesthetic perception. Heightened memory is thoroughly 
characteristic of some hysterical phases ; and even the possible traces of 
telepathy (although far the most important feature of the phenomena, if 
they really occurred) are, as we have seen, not unknown in trance states 
(like Leonie’s) where there is no indication of an invading spirit. 

Temporary control of the organism by a widely divergent fragment of 
the personality, self-suggested in some dream-like manner into hostility to 
the main mass of the personality, and perhaps better able than that 
normal personality to reach and manipulate certain stored impressions, — 
or even certain supernormal influences, — such will be the formula to 
which we shall reduce the invading Chinese devil, as described by Dr. 
Nevius, — and probably the great majority of supposed devil-possessions 
of similar type. 

The great majority, no doubt, but perhaps not all. It would indeed 
be matter for surprise if such trance-phenomena as those of Mrs. Piper 
and other modern cases had appeared in the world without previous 
parallel. Much more probable is it that similar phenomena have 
occurred sporadically from the earliest times, — although men have not 
had enough of training to analyse them. 

And, in fact, among the endless descriptions of trance-phenomena with 
which travellers furnish us, there are many which include points so 
concordant with our recent observations that we cannot but attach some 
weight to coincidences so wholly undesigned.^ But although this may be 
admitted, I still maintain that the only invaders of the organism who have 
as yet made good their title have been human, and have been friendly. 
^'The devils of Loudun ” and the like have, I repeat, entirely failed to sub- 
stantiate their independent existence. The higher influences which inspired 
the Martyrs of the Cevennes ” are not at this distance of time clearly separ- 
able from the inspirations of genius. The teasing, mystifying controls’* 
whom we have encountered so often in earlier stages of motor automatisms 
(deceptive written messages and the like) are perhaps the most puzzling. 
They suggest — nor can we absolutely disprove the suggestion — a type of 
intelligences inferior to human, — animal-like, and perhaps parasitic. But 
we have seen already that for these cases too a simpler explanation is 
forthcoming. There is nothing in the mere fact of the teasing annoyance 
to negative the supposition that these controls are also fragments — we may 


1 One important point of similarity is the concurrence in some savage ceremonies 
of utterance through an invading spirit and travelling clairvoyance exercised meantime 
by the man whose organism is thus invaded. The uncouth spirit shouts and bellows, 
presumably with the lungs of the medicine-man, hidden from view in profound slumber. 
Then the medicine-man awakes, — and tells the listening tribe the news which his sleep- 
wanderings, among gods or men, have won. 

If this indeed be thus, it fits in strangely with the experiences of our modem seers, — 
with the spiritual interchange which takes place when a discamate intelligence occupies 
the organism and meantime the incarnate intelligence, temporarily freed, awakes to 
wider percipience, — in this or in another world. 



915] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 201 

call them splinters — of the man*s own split personality. His will and 
character may divide up in manifestation just as his intellect may do. 

914. Thus far, then, our field is clear, and with this clearance, I 
think, should vanish the somewhat grim associations which have gathered 
around the word possession. In what is now to be described there 
may often be cause for perplexity, but I have never seen cause for fear. 
Nay, how far remote from fear is the resultant feeling, the sequel will 
show. 

Assuming then, as I think we at present may assume, that we have to 
deal only with spirits who have been men like ourselves, and who are 
still animated by much the same motives as those which influence us, we 
may briefly consider, on similar analogical grounds, what range of spirits 
are likely to be able to affect us, and what difficulties they are likely to 
find in doing so. Of course, actual experience alone can decide this; 
but nevertheless our expectations maybe usefully modified if we reflect 
beforehand how far such changes of personality as we already know can 
suggest to us the limits of these profounder substitutions. 

What, to begin with, do we find to be the case as to addition of 
faculty in alternating states? How far do such changes bring with them 
unfamiliar powers ? 

Reference to the recorded cases will show us that existing faculty may 
be greatly quickened and exalted. There may be an increase both in 
actual perception and in power of remembering or reproducing what has 
once been perceived. There may be increased control over muscular 
action, — as shown, for instance, in improved billiard-playing, — in the 
secondary state. But there is little evidence of the acquisition — telepathy 
apart— of any actual mass of fresh knowledge, — such as a new language, 
or a stage of mathematical knowledge unreached before. We shall not 
therefore be justified by analogy in expecting that an external spirit con- 
trolling an organism will be able easily to modify it in such a way as to 
produce speech in a language previously unknown. The brain is used 
as something between a typewriter and a calculating machine, German 
words, for instance, are not mere combinations of letters, but specific 
formulse ; they can only seldom and with great difficulty be got out of 
a machine which has not been previously fashioned for their production. 

915, Consider, again, the analogies as to memory. In the case of 
alternations of personality, memory fails and changes in what seems a 
quite capricious way. The gaps which then occur recall (as I have said) 
the ecmnesice or blank unrecollected spaces which follow upon accidents 
to the head, or upon crises of fever, when all memories that belong to a 
.particular person or to a particular period of life are clean wiped out, 
other, memories remaining intact. Compare, again, the memory of 
waking life which we retain in d7^€am. This too is absolutely capricious ; 
— I may forget my own name in a dream, and yet remember perfectly 
the kind of chairs in my dining-room. Or I may remember the chairs, 



20^ CHAPTER IX [916 

but locate them in some one else’s house. No one can predict the kind 
of confusion which may occur. 

■916.' We have also the parallel of somnambulic utterance. In talking 
with a somnambulist, be the somnambulism natural or induced, we find 
it hard to get into continuous colloquy on our own subjects. To begin 
with, he probably will not speak continuously for long together. He 
drops back into a state in which he cannot express himself at all. And 
when he does talk, he is apt to talk only on his own subjects; — ^to follow 
out his own train of ideas, — interrupted rather than influenced by what 
we say to him. The difference of state between waking and sleep is in 
many ways hard to bridge over. 

We have thus three parallelisms which may guide and limit our 
expectations. From the parallelism of possession with split personalities 
we may infer that a possessing spirit is not likely to be able to inspire 
into the recipient brain ideas or words of very unfamiliar type. From 
the parallelism of possession with dream we may infer that the memory 
of the possessing spirit may be subject to strange omissions and con- 
fusions. From the parallelism with somnambulism we may infer that 
colloquy between a human observer and the possessing spirit is not 
likely to be full or free, but rather to be hampered by difference of state, 
and abbreviated by the difficulty of maintaining psychical contact for 
long together. 

917. And here observe how different is the form our expectations 
will gradually assume from the commonplace — or even from the poetic — 
notion of what communication with the dead is likely to be, if it can take 
place at all. We now expect to have to do, not with a voice '' monotonous 
and hollow like a ghost’s, denouncing judgment ” ; — but rather with a 
voice incoherent and fugitive, like the voice of a sleeper ; — with memories 
broken and arbitrary, like the memories of a dream. 

And similarly as to what the voice is to tell us. We have no reason 
for anticipating either ^‘judgment” or high revelation. We feel pretty 
sure, indeed, that there will be no ideas expressed which much transcend 
the automatist’s habitual range. And, moreover, on the principle of 
continuity which has guided us throughout this work, we cannot assume 
that the departed spirit has already gained any vast increment of know- 
ledge. 

Whatever his new opportunities, we feel that his own capacity for 
learning may not have undergone any sudden change. We can hardly 
at first expect from him much more than some such account of his new 
state as may be intelligible to our material conceptions. 

This, I say, is what we who are prepared by these previous studies 
are likely to expect. And I shall presently show that this is very much 
what we actually find. The expectations of the ordinary public, however, 
as seen both in fiction, and in the disappointed comments with which our 
actual results are greeted, are of very different scope. 



919] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 203 

918. There are three strong currents of expectation of which we find 
constant traces, but with which the phenomena do not comply. The 
failure of compliance, indeed, leads to indifference or even to ridicule. 

(i.) There is the orthodox or traditional line of expectation. This 
leads people to expect an immediate vision of Jesus Christ, or of angels 
or devils ; or some marked and definite division of good and evil souls ; 
— or at least some foresight of the Last Judgment. There is not, however, 
so far as I know, any confirmation at all, from apparitions or messages, of 
any of these anticipations. 

Perhaps the most striking part of this negative evidence is the absence, 
in well-attested cases, of any mention of evil spirits other than human.^ 
The belief in devils has played an enormous part in almost all human 
creeds, and it was undoubtedly strong in the minds of many of the 
persons with whom communication has been held. Unhappy figures 
have been seen ; regret and remorse have been expressed. But of evil 
spirits other than human there is no news whatever. 

Here is a definite case in which I venture to hope that theological 
dogma will be insensibly modified by fresh information, and that an error 
which has caused much misery will cease to trouble mankind. 

(2.) The strain of religious anticipation merges gradually into what I 
have called the romantic. Men are tempted to think that the apparition 
or message of a departed friend is a special privilege ; — directly granted 
by Providence, or won in some way by strength of affection. In actual 
experience we find that although affection may help by inspiring the wish 
to communicate, the power is something quite independent of affection ; — 
something which love may lack and indifference possess. Nay, it is by 
no means certain that any act of will need be involved in the apparition, 
which may very probably occur in automatic fashion. 

This has been made a subject of ridicule, — as though it were a 
meaningless thing that B should appear to A who cares nothing about 
him. Of course the meaning belongs to the realm of science, not of 
romance. 

(3,) Again, there seems to be a common notion that messages from 
the next world ought to subserve some practical purpose in this. In fact, 
such a result seldom occurs : and its absence has been a frequent ground 
for doubting or deriding the message. Yet the coarseness of such a view 
hardly needs exposition. 

919. The foregoing remarks may, I hope, have prepared the reader 
to consider the problems of possession with the same open-mindedness 
which has been needed for the study of previous problems attacked in the 
present work. I have shown indeed that this new problem may be 
regarded as the natural sequence or development of the old. I have 
shown that in the movements or utterances of the possessed organism we 
have motor automatism carried to its furthest stage ; that in the incursion 

1 See Chapter VII., section 763. 



204 


CHAPTER IX 


of the possessing spirit we have telepathic invasion achieving its CQin- 
pletest victory. And I have uttered, too, an initial warning against 
certain misconceptions which have in past time deterred men from 
serious study of the messages received through such channels. 

It is time, then, to proceed to the actual evidence, to detail the 
various proofs which we have as yet collected to show that such possession 
has in fact occurred. When this shall have been done, we must again 
look round usj — and we shall find that in describing this complete or 
“ mediumistic ” form of trance, we have opened up analogies with other 
forms of trance also, which will be discerned as elements in a continuous 
and mutually corroborative chain of psychological facts. 

920. Yet there must needs be one more delay. There is another 
aspect of possession which must be explained before we can go further \ — 
involving a group of phenomena which have in various ways done much 
to confuse and even to retard our main inquiry, but which, when properly 
placed and understood, are seen to form an inevitable part of any scheme 
which strives to discover the influence of unseen agencies in the world we 
know. 

In our discussion of all telepathic and other supernormal influence I 
have thus far regarded it mainly from the psychological and not from the 
physical side. I have spoken as though the field of supernormal action 
has been always the metetherial world. Yet true as this dictum may be 
in its deepest sense, it cannot represent the whole truth for beings such 
as we are, in a world like the present.^’ For us every psychological fact 
has (so far as we know) a physical side ; and metetherial events, to be 
perceptible to us, must somehow affect the world of matter. 

In sensory and motor automatisms, then, we see effects, supernormally 
initiated, upon the world of matter. 

Imprimis, of course, and in ordinary life our own spirits (their 
existence once granted) affect our own bodies and are our standing 
examples of spirit affecting matter. Next, if a man receives a telepathic 
impact from another incarnate spirit which causes him to see a phantasmal 
figure, that man’s brain has, we may suppose, been directly affected by 
his own spirit rather than by the spirit of the distant friend. But it may 
not always be true even in the case of sensory automatisms that the 
distant spirit has made a suggestion merely to the percipient’s spirit which 
the percipient’s own spirit carries out ; and in motor automatisms, as they 
develop into possession, there are indications, as I have already pointed 
out, that the influence of the agent’s spirit is felergic rather than telepathic, 
and that we have extraneous spirits influencing the human brain or 
organism. That is to say, they are producing movements in matter; — 
even though that matter be organised matter and those movements 
molecular. 

921. So soon as this fact is grasped, — and it has not always been 
grasped by those who have striven to establish a fundamental difference 



922] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 205 

between spiritual influence on our spirits and spiritual influence on the 
material world, — we shall naturally be prompted to inquire whether inor- 
ganic matter as well as organic ever shows the agency of extraneous spirits 
upon it. The reply which first suggests itself is, of course, in the negative. 
We are constantly dealing with inorganic matter, and no hypothesis of 
spiritual influence exerted on such matter is needed to explain our experi- 
ments. But this is a rough general statement, hardly likely to cover 
phenomena so rare and fugitive as many of those with which in this 
inquiry we deal. Let us begin, so to say, at the other end ; not with the 
broad experience of life, but with the delicate and exceptional cases of 
possession of which we have lately been speaking. 

Suppose that a discarnate spirit, in temporary possession of a living 
organism, is impelling it to motor automatisms. Can we say a priori 
what the limits of such automatic movements of that organism are likely 
to be, in the same way as we can say what the limits of any of its voluntary 
movements are likely to be? May not this extraneous spirit get more 
motor power out of the organism than the waking man himself can get 
out of it? It would not surprise us, for example, if the movements in 
trance showed increased concentraHon ; if a dynamometer (for instance) 
was more forcibly squeezed by the spirit acting through the man than by 
the man himself. Is there any other way in which one would imagine 
that a spirit possessing me could use my vital force more skilfully than 
I could use it myself? 

I do not know how my will moves my arm ; but I know by experience 
that my will generally moves only my arm and what my arm can touch ; — 
whatever objects are actually in contact with the protoplasmic skeleton 
which represents the life of my organism. Yet I can sometimes move 
objects not in actual contact, as by melting them with the heat or (in the 
dry air of Colorado) kindling them with the electricity, which my 
fingers emit. I see no very definite limit to this power. I do not know 
all the forms of energy which ray fingers might, under suitable training, 
emit. 

922. And now suppose that a possessing spirit can use my organism 
more skilfully than I can. May he not manage to emit from that organism 
some energy which can visibly move ponderable objects not actually in 
contact with my flesh ? That would be a phenomenon of possession not 
very unlike its other phenomena ; — and it would be telekinesis. 

By that word (due to M. Aksakoff) it is convenient to describe what 
have been called the physical phenomena of spiritualism,^* as to whose 
existence as a reality, and not as a system of fraudulent pretences, fierce 
controversy has raged for half a century, and is still raging. 

My own method of dealing with this thorny subject in this book will 
be as follows : — I have first indicated, in the pages just preceding, that 
telekinetic phenomena can be fitted, with no manifest illogicality, into 
that conception of possession which forms the most advanced point to 



206 


CHAPTER IX 


[923 

which our evidence leads us. I shall next feel bound to utter an earnest 
warning against the fraud and folly which have gathered with exceptional 
thickness round this special group of phenomena. I shall then refer to 
certain phenomena of telekinesis, in cases where they are inextricably 
mixed up with the psychological phenomena which I consider as my more 
especial field. And finally, in a long Appendix (926 A), I shall set forth 
a Scheme ^of Vital Faculty^' which will suggest some possible parallels 
between the operations of the supraliminal self, the subliminal self, and the 
possessing spirit. 

923. Along this line, as I believe, we reach important truths ; — and 
truths entirely concordant with the psychological evidence of preceding 
chapters. And yet it is with a half-reluctant feeling that I admit the 
topic into this work. So sorely needed here is the word of warning of 
which I have spoken ; — so humiliating is the confession which must be 
made of the fraud and folly which have made of spiritualism a kind of 
by-word in scientific circles ; — which have presented the very men who have 
obtained the first inkling of momentous truths in the guise of a credulous 
sect, preyed upon by a specially repulsive group of impostors. The fact 
is, that just here, and not earlier, we reach the points where the enormous 
issues, which have in truth underlain each stage and step in our long 
inquiry, become conspicuous to the ordinary mind. We somewhat \sud- 
denly pass from speculations and experiments on which the public look 
with the indifference which they feel for philosophy to speculations and 
experiments on which they look with the interest which they feel in the 
religious dogmas which are to decide their own future. I do not say 
that the public interested has been a very wide one. It has indeed 
been wide enough, as I have said, to foster and support a particularly 
detestable group of charlatans; but it has not been wide enough, or 
earnest enough, to compile any considerable mass of careful experiment. 
I conjectured in a previous chapter that not a hundred men, at the 
ordinary professional level, had up till now made the study of the 
phenomena of hypnotism , the main intellectual business of their lives. If 
for hypnotism we substitute these phenomena of spiritualism ” the list of 
serious students might probably be reduced to fifty. 

It is well to point out the scantiness of efficient investigators of these 
problems, in view of the objection often made to the lack of progress in 
the difficult task. Outside some comparatively small group the number 
of spiritists rather resemble that multitude of indiscriminate givers who, 
in the days of haphazard charity, encouraged impostors, and brought 
philanthropy into contempt. 

Confronted with these evils, the early members of the Charity 
Organisation Society had a painful and invidious task to perform. They 
had to repress where they would fain have stimulated ; to act as detec- 
tives where they would fain have acted as benefactors ; to pass judgment 
on men whose charitable impulses were as pure and ardent as their own. 



925] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 207 

Only through the seeming sternness of such training could the public learn 
to help the miserable without fostering the impostors. 

The parallel at which I '’am pointing here is obvious enough ; but in 
the realm of psychical research — as indeed in the realm of almsgiving — 
that needed lesson has as yet been very imperfectly acquired. I propose 
to indicate in Appendices (923 A and B) some of the work which the 
Society for Psychical Research has done in exposing and guarding against 
fraud and credulity ; and I further refer my readers to a forthcoming book 
by my friend and colleague, Mr. Podmore, in which the imposture which 
has dogged so-called “ Modern Spiritualism ” from its inception will be 
exposed with a distinctness which needs must be salutary ; — even though 
in a history so complex it be always possible that more intimate knowledge 
might have modified judgment on one or other detail.^ 

924, This serious warning given, I may pursue my task of describing 
that most interesting of supernormal phenomena which we term Pos- 
session ; — a phenomenon to which the telekinesis which has often accom- 
panied it lends an additional element of attractive mystery. It has, of 
course, been that interest, that mystery, which has attracted the fraudulent 
imitations of which I have spoken ; — and which it would not have been 
worth while to contrive except for some phenomena thus strongly mani- 
festing spiritual presence and spiritual power. 

This persistent simulation of telekinesis has, naturally enough, in- 
spired persistent doubt as to its genuine occurrence even in cases where 
simulation has been carefully guarded against, or is antecedently improb- 
able. Important though the phenomenon is, it is not so intimately linked 
with my own general thesis in this work as to render it needful for me to 
review its whole history in detail. I deal with it only where it comes 
immediately before me as an element in spirit-possession; — especially 
noticeable in the two important cases of D. D. Home and of W. 
Stainton Moses. 

And recognising, as I do, that telekinesis — like the simpler motor 
automatisms of which it forms the extreme term — reaches in cases of 
possession its maximum intensity, I feel bound (if it were only for the 
sake of analogical completeness) to show that, like other motor auto- 
matisms, telekinesis has appeared occasionally at earlier stages, although 
needing the free play of a possessed organism to develop itself to the full, 

925. It is not, indeed, necessary to suppose that all telekinesis is 

due to spiritual action. Rather we may begin by regarding it as a 
form of motor automatism, initiated by the subliminal self. I believe 
that there is sometimes an element of telekinesis in such common 
phenomena as table-tilting and automatic writing with planchette or even 
with pencil in Mr. Wedgwood’s and Mrs. Newnham’s experiments, 
see 861, 862, and849A), ' 

1 Modern Spiritualism ; a History and a Criticism, by Frank Podmore (Methuen 
and Co., London, 1902). 



208 


CHAPTER IX 


[926 

We cannot, of course, expect that any such slight and obscure admix- 
ture of telekinesis can be sifted out from an act of motor automatism 
in any evidential form. But from my point of view this kind of 
evidential difficulty is pretty sure to occur, from the very nature of the 
supernormal movement. If that movement could be started with equal 
ease from any given point in space, and in any direction, we might fairly 
expect that such points would be chosen, and such movements performed, 
as gave the best evidence of the movement’s independence of ordinary 
human agency. But the telekinetic force, in my view, is generally (I do 
not say always) a mere extension to a short distance from the sensitive’s 
organism of a small part of his ordinary muscular power. It even seems 
to tend to simulate that ordinary action; — much as other supernormal 
exercises of faculty follow, so far as they can, the modes in which normal 
faculty operates. 

So gradual, so inconspicuous, are the beginnings of telekinesis; — 
which presently develop, no doubt, into something which we can no 
longer ascribe to any hyperboulic activities of the subliminal self. It 
develops, indeed, in two directions, — into messages and into marvels. 
Genuine raps, or percussive sounds, are rare (see 925 A), nor is it possible 
by mere description of the noises to prove their genuineness in any given 
case, unmistakable and inimitable though they are when actually heard. 
But with one sensitive known intimately to me, — the lady described as 
Miss A. (see 869), — raps have occurred (as I know both by actually 
hearing them and by abundant attestation) as a means of attracting 
attention under many circumstances, and of conveying advice and infor- 
mation of all kinds; — from such dicta as subliminal perception might 
furnish up to evidential messages ascribed to deceased persons. 

Midway between the raps which spell out messages and the sheer 
marvels which may be performed ‘‘ to show spirit-power ” come the 
various displacements of objects, &c., which are attested as coinciding 
(like veridical phantasms) with moments of death or crisis (see, e.g,, case 
III. in 716 C), — or merely as testifying to presences , — as of a dear friend 
recently dead. 

926. Thus much it was needful to say in order to make certain 
cases of possession soon to be cited intelligible to the reader, but I 
should not have deferred my mention of telekinesis to this point in my 
book had I intended to deal with these physical phenomena as fully as 
with the psychical phenomena which I endeavour to expound and in 
some measure to connect and correlate. 

While believing absolutely in the occurrence of telekinetic pheno- 
mena, I yet hold that it would be premature to press them upon my 
reader’s belief, or to introduce them as an integral part of my general 
expository scheme. From one point of view, their detailed establishment, 
as against the theory of fraud, demands an expert knowledge of conjuring 
and other arts which I cannot claim to possess. From another point of 



927] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 209 

view, their right comprehension must depend upon a knowledge of the 
relations between matter and ether such as is now only dimly adum- 
brated by the most recent discoveries ; — for instance, discoveries as to 
previously unsuspected forms of radiation. 

In a long Appendix, viz., “Scheme of Vital Faculty’’ (926 A)— 
originally written with reference to the manifestations through Mr. Stainton 
Moses — I have tried to prepare the way for future inquiries ; to indicate in 
what directions a better equipped exploration may hereafter .reap rich 
reward. Even that tentative sketch, perhaps, may have been too am- 
bitious for my powers in the present state not only of ray own, but of 
human knowledge; and in the text of this chapter I shall allude to 
telekinetic phenomena only where unavoidable, — owing to their inmixture 
into phenomena more directly psychological, — and in the tone of the 
historian rather than of the scientific critic. As a matter of history I 
shall give in 926 B references to the best extant accounts of telekinetic 
phenomena. 

* * * * ♦ * 1 

927. The way has now been so fai cleared for our cases of Possession 
that at least the principal phenomena claimed have been (I hope) made 
intelligible, and shown to be concordant with other phenomena already 
described and attested. It will be best, however, to consider first some 
of the more rudimentary cases before going on to our own special instances 
of possession, — those of Mr. Stainton Moses or Mrs. Piper. 

I have reason to believe, both from what I have witnessed myself and 
from the reports of others, that occasional phenomena of ecstasy or posses- 
sion are not infrequent in some family circles or groups of intimate friends 
(see, the case of Mr. O. in 927 A). 

The persons concerned, however, generally do not realise the import- 
ance of accurate records ; in some cases the manifestations are sporadic 
in character and scarcely susceptible of any detailed investigation ; and 
often the very occurrence of the phenomena s has been sedulously con- 
cealed from all outside the circle. Sometimes the sacredness of the mani- 
festations has been pleaded as a sufficient reason "for their concealment, 
or the tendency to trance on the part of the “ sensitive ” has been regarded 
as a calamity, to be checked and prohibited as though it were a distressing 
disease. 

There are further occasional cases of the frankly mediumistic ” type 
(of which I give examples in 927 B and C) . But the problems involved 
are so complicated, and the main question — that of the agency of dis- 
camate spirits in the matter — is so difficult of determination, that no 

1 The asterisks indicate the end of the part of this Chapter which was consecutively 
composed by the author. See Preface, The rest of the Chapter consists chiefly of 
fra^ents written by him at different times. In putting these together, the Editors felt 
it desirable to preserve as much as possible of the original form and to present as much 
of the material as was complete in itself, at the risk of some lack of transition and even 
of a certain degree of repetition. 

VOL. II. . 


O 



210 


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[928 

collection of such fragmentary material could be of much service to us in 
our present inquiry unless perhaps to indicate that the fully-developed 
cases belong, after all, to a not uncommon type. 

928. We have already seen that there is no great gulf between the 
sudden incursions, the rapid messages of the dead, with which we are 
already familiar, and incursions so intimate, messages so prolonged, as to 
lay claim to a name more descriptive than that of motor automatisms. 

And similarly no line of absolute separation can be drawn between 
the brief psychical excursions previously described, and those more pro- 
longed excursions of the spirit which I would group under the name of 
ecstasy. 

In the earlier part of this book I have naturally dwelt rather on the 
evidence for supernormal acquisition of knowledge than on the methods 
of such acquisition, and my present discussion must needs be restricted to 
a certain extent in the same way. We must, however, attempt some pro- 
visional scheme of classification, though recognising that the difficulties of 
interpretation which I pointed out in Chapter IV. (section 419), when 
endeavouring to distinguish between telepathy and telaesthesia, meet us 
again in dealing with possession and ecstasy. We may not, that is, be 
able to say, as regards a particular manifestation, whether it is an instance 
of incipient possession, or incipient ecstasy, or even whether the organism 
is being controlled ” directly by some extraneous spirit or by its own 
incarnate spirit. It is from the extreme cases that we form our categories. 
But now that we have reached some conception of what is involved in 
ecstasy and possession, we can interpret some earlier cases in this new 
light. Such experiences, for instance, as those of Mr. Mamtchitch (714), 
Miss Conley (721), Madame X. (833), and Miss A. (859 A), suggest a 
close kinship to the more developed cases of Mr. Moses and Mrs. Piper. 

929. In other cases it may be clear that no control of any dis- 
carnate spirit is involved, but there seems to be something like incipient 
possession by the subliminal self or incarnate spirit. From this point 
of view the following incident — recorded, it will be observed, on the 
day of its occurrence — is of undoubted psychological interest. If it is 
not a case of thought-transference from Miss C. to Mrs. Luther (possibly 
between their subliminal selves during sleep), we must assume that a 
very remarkable recrudescence of latent memory occurred to the latter 
independently, at the same time that a similar though less remarkable 
revival of memory occurred to the former. But I introduce the case here 
simply as suggestive of the momentary domination of the subliminal over 
the supraliminal self. The account is quoted from the Journal S.P.R., 
vol. V. p. 253. Professor Luther writes : — 

Hartford, Conn., March 2nd, 1892. 

. . . Miss C. is often in my study and consults my books freely, so that 

her dream was not remarkable. The dream of Mrs. L. (my wife) was also 



930] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 211 

ordinary in character. The coincidence in time of the dreams may have 
been merely a coincidence. But that after these occurrences Mrs. L. should 
suddenly, without the least premeditation and without hesitation, take the 
right book and open it at the right page with the certainty of a somnambulist, 
seems to me strange. . . . 

These events took place yesterday, last night, and this morning. 

F. S. Luther 

(Prof. Math., Trinity College). 


Mrs. L. and Miss C. live at the same hotel and meet daily. Miss C. is 
engaged in writing an essay upon Emerson, and expresses to Mrs. L. her wish 
to obtain some particulars as to Emerson^s private life. Mrs. L. regrets that 
she has no book treating of the subject. During the night following this con- 
versation Mrs. L. dreams of handing Miss C. a book containing an article such 
as is desired, and Miss C. dreams of telling Mrs. L. that she had procured just 
the information which she had been looking for. Each lady relates to the other 
her dream when they meet at breakfast the next morning. Mrs. L, returns to 
her room, and, while certainly not consciously thinking of Emerson, suddenly 
finds in her mind the thought, “ There is the book which Miss C. needs.” She 
goes directly to a bookcase, takes down vol. xvii. of the Century Magazine^ and 
opens immediately at the article, ‘‘The Homes and Haunts of Emerson.'^ 
Mrs. L. had undoubtedly read this article in 1879, but she had never studied 
Emerson or his works, nor had she made any special effort to assist Miss C. in 
her search, though feeling a friend^s interest in the proposed essay. 

After receiving the book and hearing how it was selected, Miss C. relates 
her dream more fully, it appearing that she bad seemed to be standing in front 
of Mrs. L.’s shelves with a large, illustrated book in her hands, and that in the 
book was something about Emerson. 

Still later it is found that Miss C. had actually noticed the article in question 
while actually in the position reproduced in her dream. This, however, had 
happened about a month previous to the events just narrated, and before she 
had thought of looking up authorities as to Emerson, so that she had entirely 
forgotten the occurrence and the article. Neither did she, at that time, call 
Mrs. L.’s attention to the article, or mention Emerson. 

According to the best information attainable. Miss C. was not thinking of 
her essay at the time when Mrs. L. felt the sudden impulse to take down a 
certain book. And perhaps it should be added that the volume is one of a 
complete set of the Century variously disposed upon Mrs. L.’s shelves. 

[This account is signed by Professor Luther, Mrs. L., and Miss C.] 

930 . Of special interest are a few cases where the actual mechanism 
of some brief communication from the spiritual world seems to suggest and 
lead up to the mechanism which we shall afterwards describe either as 
ecstasy or as possession. 

I give first a case which suggests such knowledge as may be learnt in 
ecstasy ; — as though a message had been communicated to a sleeper during 
some brief excursion into the spiritual world, — which message was remem- 
bered for a few moments, in symbolic form, and then rapidly forgotten^ as 
the sleeper returned fully into the normal waking state. What is to be 



212 


CHAPTER IX 


[930 

noted is that the personality of sleep to which I attribute the spiritual 
excursion, seems at first to have been ‘^controlling” the awakened 
organism. In other words, Professor Thoulet was partially entranced or 
possessed by his own spirit or subliminal self. 

I quote from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 503-5, a translation of 
the original account of the case in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques 
(September-October 1891). 

Professor Thoulet writes to Professor Richet as follows : — 

April 17M, 1891. 

. . . During the summer of 1867, I was officially the assistant, but in reality 
the friend, in spite of difference in age, of M. F., a former officer in the navy, 
who had gone into business. We were trying to set on foot again the ex- 
ploitation of an old sulphur mine at Rivanazzaro, near Voghera, in Piedmont, 
which had been long abandoned on account of a falling in. 

We occupied the same rooms, and our relations were those of father and 
son, or of elder and younger brother. . . . 

I knew that Madame F., who lived at Toulon, and with whom I was slightly 
acquainted, would soon be confined. I cannot say I was indifferent about this 
fact, for it concerned M. F. ; but it certainly caused me no profound emotion ; 
it was a second child, all was going well, and M. F. was not anxious. I myself 
was well and calm. It is true that a few days before, in Burgundy, my mother 
had fallen out of a carriage ; but the fall had no bad consequences, and the 
letter which informed me of it also told me there was no harm done. 

M. F. and I slept in adjoining rooms, and as it was hot we left the door 
between them open. One morning I sprang suddenly out of bed, crossed my 
room, entered that of M. F., and awakened him by crying out, “ You have just 
got a little girl; the telegram says . . Upon this I began to read the 
telegram. M. F. sat up and listened ; but all at once I understood that I had 
been asleep, and that consequently my telegram was only a dream, not to be 
believed ; and then, at the same time, this telegram which was somehow in my 
hand and of which I had read about three lines aloud, word for word, seemed 
to withdraw from my eyes as if some one were carrying it off open ; the words 
disappeared, though their image still remained ; those which I had pronounced 
remained in my memory, while the rest of the telegram was only a form* 

I stammered something; M. F. got up and led me into the dining-room, 
and made me write down the words I had pronounced ; when I came to the 
lines which, though they had disappeared from my memory, still remained 
pictured in my eye, I replaced them by dots, making a sort of drawing of them. 
Remark that the telegram was not written in common terms ; there were about 
six lines of it, and I had read more than two of them. Then, becoming aware 
of our rather incorrect costume, M. F. and I began to laugh, and went back to 
our beds. 

Two or three days after I left for Torde ; I tried in vain to remember the 
rest of the telegram ; I went on to Turin, and eight or ten days after my dream 
I received the following telegram from M. F., “ Come directly, you were right.” 

I returned to Rivanazzaro and M. F. showed me a telegram which he had 
received the evening before ; I recognised it as the one I had seen in my 
dream ; the beginning was exactly what I had written, and the end, which was 
exactly like my drawing, enabled me to read again the words which I saw again. 



931] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 213 

Please remark that the confinement had taken place the evening before, and 
therefore the fact was not that I, being in Italy, had seen a telegram which 
already existed in France — this I might with some difficulty have understood — 
but that I had seen it ten days before it existed or could have existed ; since 
the event it announced had not yet taken place. I have turned this phenomenon 
over in my memory and reasoned about it many times, trying to explain it, to 
connect it with something, with a previous conversation, with some mental 
tension, with an analogy, a wish, — and all in vain. M. F. is dead, and the 
paper I wrote has disappeared. If I were called before a court of justice about 
it, I could not furnish the shadow of a material proof, and again the two 
personalities which exist in me, the animal and the savant^ have disputed on 
this subject so often that sometimes I doubt it myself. However, the animal, 
obstinate as an animal usually is, repeats incessantly that I have seen, and I 
have read, and it is useless for me to tell myself that if any one else told me 
such a stoiy I should not believe it. I am obliged to admit that it happened. 

J. Thoulet, 

Professor at the Faculti des Sciences at Nancy. 

Professor Richet adds : — 

M. Thoulet has lately confirmed all the details contained in his letter. He 
has no longer any written trace of this old story, but the recollection of it is 
perfectly clear. He assured me that he had seen and read the telegram like a 
real object. . . . 

931. Next I quote a case where a kind of conversation is indicated 
between the sleeper and some communicating spirit ; — recalling the scraps 
of conversation sometimes overheard (as it were) between Mrs. Piper and 
some “ control when she is in the act of awaking from trance. These 
moments between two worlds are often, as will be seen, of high signi- 
ficance. In the case here cited we seem to see Mr. Goodall at first 
misapprehending a message, and himself automatically uttering the 
misapprehension, and then receiving the needed correction from his 
invisible interlocutor. 

From Proceedings S.P.R., vol, v. pp. 45 3-5 - The following narrative 
was communicated by Mr, Edward A. Goodall, of the Royal Society 
of Painters in Water Colours, London : — 

May 1888. 

At Midsummer, 1869, ^ London for Naples. The heat being excessive, 
people were leaving for Ischia, and I thought it best to go there myself. 

Crossing by steamer, I slept one night at Casamicciola, on the coast, and 
walked next morning into the town of Ischia. 

Liking the hotel there better than my quarters of the previous night, I 
fetched my small amount of luggage by help of a man, who ^returned with me 
on foot beside an animal which I rode^ — one of the fine, sure-footed, big 
donkeys of the country. Arrived at the hotel, and while sitting perfectly still 
in my saddle talking to the landlady, the donkey went down upon his knees as 
if he had been shot or struck by lightning, throwing me over his head upon the 
lava pavement. In endeavouring to save myself my right hand was badly 
injured. It soon became much swollen and very painful. A Neapolitan 



214 


CHAPTER IX 


[932 

doctor on the spot said no bones were broken, but perfect rest would be 
needful, with my arm in a sling. Sketching, of course, was impossible, and 
with neither books, newspapers, nor letters I felt my inactivity keenly. 

It must have been on my third or fourth night, and about the middle of it, 
when I awoke, as it seemed at the sound of my own voice, saying, “ I know I 
have lost my dearest little May.” Another voice, which I in no way recog- 
nised, answered, “ TVJ?, not May, but your youngest boy^ 

The distinctness and solemnity of the voice made such a distressing impres- 
sion upon me that I slept no more. I got up at daybreak, and went out, 
noticing for the first time telegraph-poles and wires. 

Without delay I communicated with the postmaster at Naples, and by next 
boat received two letters from home. I opened them according to dates out- 
side. The first told me that my youngest boy was taken suddenly ill; the 
second, that he was dead. 

Neither on his account nor on that of any of my family had I any cause for 
uneasiness. All were quite well on my taking leave of them so lately. My 
impression ever since has been that the time of the death coincided as nearly 
as we could judge with the time of my accident.^ 

In writing to Mrs. Goodall, I called the incident of the voice a dream, as 
less likely perhaps to- disturb her than the details which I gave on reaching 
home, and which I have now repeated. 

My letters happen to have been preserved. 

I have never had any hallucination of any kind, nor am I in the habit of 
talking in my sleep. I do remember once waking with some words of mere 
nonsense upon my lips, but the experience of the voice speaking to me was 
absolutely unique. Edward A. Goodall. 

Extracts from letters to Mrs. E. A. Goodall from Ischia : — 

Wednesday, August iiik, 1869. 

The postman brought me two letters containing sad news indeed. Poor 
little Percy. I dreamt some nights since the poor little fellow was taken from 

us. . . . 

August I 6 ^h. 

I did not tell you, dear, the particulars of my dream about poor little Percy. 

I had been for several days very fidgety and wretched at getting no letters 
from home, and had gone to bed in worse spirits than usual, and in my dream 
I fancied I said : “ I have lost my dearest little May,” A strange voice seemed 
to say: “No, May, but your youngest boy,” not mentioning his name. . . . 

Mr. Goodall gave me verbally a concordant account of the affair, 
and several members of his family, who were present at our interview, 
recollected the strong impression made on him and them at the time. 

932. The next case is precisely a miniature case of possession, 
(Compare Mr, Cameron Grant’s experience, in 736 B.) 

From the Journal S.P.R., vol. viii, pp. 278 - 280 , 

The following account” (writes Dr. Hodgson) “was sent to me by 
Mr. John E. Wilkie at the suggestion of one of our American members 

^ Goodall thinks that the mulds sudden fall, otheruoise unexplainable, way have 
been due to terror at some apparition of the dying child. 



932] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 215 

who is well known to me, and who speaks in the highest terms of Mr. 
Wilkie as a witness : ” — 


Washington, D.C., April iith, 1898. 

In October 1895, while living in London, England, I was attacked by 
bronchitis in rather a severe form, and on the advice of my physician, Dr. 
Oscar C. De Wolf, went to his residence in 6 Grenville Place, Cromwell Road, 
where I could be under his immediate care. For two days I was confined to 
my bedy and about five o’clock in the afternoon of the third day, feeling some- 
what better, I partially dressed myself, slipped on a heavy bath robe, and went 
down to the sitting-room on the main floor, where my friend, the doctor, 
usually spent a part of the afternoon in reading. A steamer chair was placed 
before the fire by one of the servants, and I was made comfortable with pillows. 
The doctor was present, and sat immediately behind me reading. I dropped 
off into a light doze, and slept for perhaps thirty minutes. Suddenly I became 
conscious of the fact that I was about to awaken ; I was in a condition where I 
was neither awake nor asleep. I realised fully that I had been asleep, and I 
was equally conscious of the fact that I was not wide awake. While in this 
peculiar mental condition I suddenly said to myself: “Wait a minute. Here 
is a message for the doctor.” At the moment I fancied that I had upon my lap 
a pad of paper, and I thought I wrote upon this pad with a pencil the following 
words : — 

“ Dear Doctor,— Do you remember Katy McGuire, who used to live with 
you in Chester? She died in 1872. She hopes you are having a good time in 
London.” 

Instantly thereafter I found myself wide awake, felt no surprise at not 
finding the pad of paper on my knee, because I then realised that that was 
but the hallucination of a dream, but impressed with that feature of my thought 
which related to the message, I partly turned my head, and, speaking over my 
shoulder to the doctor, said : “ Doctor, I have a message for you.” 

The doctor looked up from British Medical Journal which he was read- 
ing, and said ; “ W hat’s that ? ” 

“ I have a message for you,” I repeated. “ It is this : ‘ Dear Doctor : Do 
you remember Katy McGuire, who used to live with you in Chester ? She died 
in 1872. She hopes you are having a good time in London.’ ” 

The doctor looked at me with amazement written all over his face, and said : 

“ Why, what the devil do you mean ? ” 

“ I don’t know anything about it except that just before I woke up I was 
impelled to receive this message which I have just delivered to you.” 

“Did you ever hear of Katy McGuire ?” asked the doctor. 

“ Never in my life.” 

“ Well,” said the doctor, “ that’s one of the most remarkable things I ever 
heard of. My father for a great many years lived at Chester, Mass. There 
was a neighbouring family named McGuire, and Katy McGuire, a daughter of 
this neighbour, frequently came over to our house, as the younger people in a 
country village will visit their neighbours, and used to assist my mother in the 
lighter duties about the house. I was absent from Chester from about 1869 to 
about 1873. I known Katy, however, as a daughter of our neighbour and 
knew that she used to visit the house. She died some time during the absence 
I speak of, but as to the exact date of her death I am not informed.” 

That closed the incident, and although the doctor told me that he would 



2I6 


CHAPTER IX 


[932 

write to his old home to ascertain the exact date of Katy’s death, I have never 
heard from him further in the matter. I questioned him at the time as to 
whether he had recently thought of Katy McGuire, and he told me that her 
name had not occurred to him for twenty years, and that he might never have 
recalled it had it not been for the rather curious incident which had occurred. 
In my own mind I could only explain the occurrence as a rather unusual coin- 
cidence. I was personally aware of the fact that the doctor’s old home had 
been in Chester, Mass., and had frequently talked with him of his earlier ex- 
periences in life when he began practice in that city, but never at any time 
during these conversations had the name of this neighbour’s daughter been 
mentioned, nor had the name of the neighbour been mentioned, our conversa- 
tion relating entirely to the immediate members of the family, particularly the 
doctor’s father, who was a noted practitioner in that district. 

John E. Wilkie. 

Dr. De Wolf, in reply to Dr. Hodgson’s first inquiry, wrote : — 

6 Grenville Place, Cromwell' Road, S.W., Aprii 1898. 

Dear Sir, — In reply to your letter of the 27th inst, I regret that I cannot 
recall with any definite recollection the incident to which Mr. Wilkie refers. 

I remember that he told me one morning he had had a remarkable 
dream— or conference with some one who knew me when a young lad.— 
Very truly yours, Oscar C. De Wolf. 

Dr. Hodgson then sent Mr. Wilkie’s account to Dr. De Wolf, with 
further inquiries, to which Dr. De Wolf replied as follows : — 

6 Grenville Place, Cromwell Road, S. W., May 1898. 

Dear Sir,— Mr. Wilkie’s statement is correct except as to unimportant 
detail. My father practised his profession of medicine, in Chester, Mass., for 
sixty years — dying in 1890. I was born in Chester and lived there until 1857, 
when I was in Paris studying medicine for four years. In 1861 I ^returned to 
America and immediately entered the army as surgeon and served until the 
close of the war in 1865. In 1866 I located in Northampton, Mass., where I 
practised my profession until 1873, when I removed to Chicago. 

Chester is a hill town in Western Mass., and Northampton is seventeen 
miles distant. While in Northampton I was often at my father’s house — 
probably every week— and during some of the years from 1866 to 1873 I knew 
Katy McGuire as a servant assisting my mother. 

She was an obliging and pleasant girl and always glad to see me. She 
had no family in Chester (as Mr. Wilkie says) and I do not know where she 
came from. Neither do I know where or when she died— but I know she is 
dead. There is nothing left of my family in Chester. The old homestead still 
remains with me, and I visit it every year. 

The strange feature (to me) of this incident is the fact that I had not thought 
of this girl for many years, and Mr. Wilkie was never within 500 miles of 
Chester. 

We had been warm friends since soon after my location in Chicago, where 
he was connected with a department of the Chicago Tribune. I came to 
London in 1892 and Mr. Wilkie followed the next year as the manager of Low’s 



934] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 217 

A 7 nerican Exchange^ 3 Northumberland Avenue. His family did not join him 
until 1895, which explains his being in my house when ill. 

Mr. Wilkie is a very straightforward man and not given to illusions of any 
kind. He is now the chief of the Secret Service Department of the U.S. 
Government, Washington, D.C. 

Neither of us were believers in spiritual manifestations of this character, 
and this event so impressed us that we did not like to talk about it, and it has 
been very seldom referred to when we met— Very truly yours, 

Oscar C. De Wolf. 

933, These cases, then, may serve as illustrations both of the 
incipient stages of a trance which may develop into ecstasy on the one 
hand or possession on the other, and of the different aspects of possession 
according as it is regarded as a more developed form of motor automatism 
or as a special intensification of telepathic action. We have first, in 
Mrs. Luther’s case, a partial and temporary control by the subliminal 
self, exhibiting probably telepathic influence, but with no indications of 
any psychical excursion or invasion; in Professor Thoulet’s case we 
find a fuller control by the subliminal self, with a manifestation of 
knowledge suggesting some spiritual excursion; in Mr. Goodall’s case 
there seems to be a telepathic conversation between his subliminal self 
controlling his utterance and some perhaps discamate spirit ; and finally, 
in Mr. Wilkie’s case, there is the definite superposition, as it were, of 
a discamate spirit’s message upon the automatist in such a way that we 
are led to wonder whether it was the mind or the brain of the automatist 
that received the message. The first step apparently is the abeyance of 
the supraliminal self and the dominance of the subliminal self, which may 
lead in rare cases to a form of trance (or of what we have hitherto 
called secondary personality) where the whole body of the automatist 
is controlled by his own subliminal self, or incarnate spirit, but where 
there is no indication of any relation with discamate spirits. The next 
form of trance is where the incarnate spirit, whether or not maintaining 
control of the whole body, makes excursions into or holds telepathic 
intercourse with the spiritual world. And, lastly, there is the trance of 
possession by another, a discamate spirit. We cannot, of course, 
always distinguish between these three main types of trance — ^which, as 
we shall see later, themselves admit of different degrees and varieties. 

934. The most striking case known to me of the first form of 
trance — ^possession by the subliminal self— is that of the Rev. C. B. 
Sanders, whose trance-personality has always called itself by the name 
of X + Y = Z,” and of whom I give an account in 934 A. The life 
of the normal Mr. Sanders has apparently been passed in the environ- 
ment of a special form of Presbyterian doctrine, and there seems to 
have been a fear on the part of Mr. Sanders himself lest the trance 
manifestations of which he was the subject should conflict with the 
theological position which he held as a minister; and indeed for 



2i8 


CHAPTER IX 


[935 

several years ‘of his early suffering he was inclined to regard his peculiar 
case of affliction as the result of Satanic agency.” On the part of some 
of his friends also there seems to be a special desire to show that 
X + Y = Z ” was not heterodox. Under these circumstances it is perhaps 
not surprising that we find so much reticence in + Y = Z” concern- 
ing his own relations to the normal Mr. Sanders. What little explanation 
is offered seems to be in singular harmony with one of the main tenets 
advanced in this book, since the claim made by “X-1- Y = Z ” is obviously 
that he represents the incarnate spirit of Mr. Sanders exercising the higher 
faculties which naturally pertain to it, but which can be manifested to the 
full only when it is freed from its fleshly barriers. This frequently occurs, 
he says, in dying persons, who describe scenes in the spiritual world, and 
in his own experience when his casket ” is similarly affected, and the 
bodily obstructions to spiritual vision are removed. 

The suggestion which I made in the case of Anna Winsor (see vol. i., 
237 and 237 A) — that the intelligence controlling her sane right arm 
was her own subliminal self — may now perhaps appear less strange than 
it did at the outset of our inquiry ; but whereas in that case the supra- 
liminal self was only partially in abeyance, the supraliminal self of Mr. 
Sanders seems to become completely dormant during his trances. 

935. In this case then the subliminal self seems to take complete 
control of the organism, exercising its own powers of telepathy and 
telsesthesia, but showing no evidence of direct communication with 
discamate spirits. We must now pass on to the most notable recent 
case where such communication has been claimed, — that of Swedenborg, 
— to whose exceptional trance-history and attempt to give some scientific 
system to his experiences of ecstasy I referred in Chapter I. (section 105). 

And here I meet with a kind of difficulty which is sure to present itself 
sooner or later to all persons who endeavour to present to the world what 
they regard as novel and important truths. There is sure to be some 
embarrassing likeness or travesty of that truth in the world already. 
There are sure to be sects or persons, past or present, holding something 
like the same beliefs on different grounds ; — on grounds which one may 
find it equally difficult to endorse and to disavow. 

I have indeed already been able to admit without reluctance that the 
^'humble thinkers” of the Stone Age, the believers in Witchcraft, in 
Shamanism, have been my true precursors in many of the ideas upheld 
in this book. But these spiritual ancestors are remote and unobtrusive ; 
and it may be easier to admit that one is descended from an ape than 
that one is own brother to a madman. Swedenborg is, in fact, a madman 
in most men^s view, and this judgment has much to support it. The 
great bulk of his teaching, — almost the whole content of Arcana Coslestia, 
— has undergone a singularly unfortunate downfall. A seer, a mystic, 
cannot often be disproved ; — his visions may fall out of favour, but they 
still record one man’s subjective outlook on the universe. Swedenborg’s 



936] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 219 

wildnesses, on the other hand^ were based upon a definite foundation 
which has definitely crumbled away. No one now regards the Old 
Testament as a homogeneous and verbally inspired whole ; — and unless 
it be so, the spiritual meaning which Swedenborg draws from its every 
word by his doctrine of Correspondences is not only a futile fancy, but 
a tissue of gross and demonstrable errors. And yet, on the face of it, was 
not all this error more amply accredited than any of the utterances of 
possession or the recollections of ecstasy which I shall be able to cite 
from modem sensitives? Swedenborg was one of the leading savants 
of Europe \ it would be absurd to place any of our sensitives on the same 
intellectual level. If his celestial revelations turn out to have been non- 
sense, what are Mrs. Piper’s likely to be? 

936. I might, of course, save myself from this dilemma by re- 
pudiating Swedenborg’s seership altogether. The evidential matter 
which he has left behind him is singularly scanty in comparison with 
his pretensions to a communion of many years with so many spirits 
of the departed. I do not, however, accept this means of escape from 
the difficulty. I think that the half-dozen “ evidential cases ” scattered 
through the memoirs of Swedenborg are stamped with the impress of 
truth, — and ^ I think, also, that without some true experience of the 
spiritual world Swedenborg could not have entered into that atmos- 
phere of truth in which even his worst errors are held in solution. 
Swedenborg’s writings on the world of spirits fall in the main into two 
classes, — albeit classes not easily divided. There are experienUal writings 
and there are dogmatic writings. The first of these classes contains ac- 
counts of what he saw and felt in that world, and of such inferences 
with regard to its laws as his actual experience suggested. Now, 
speaking broadly, all this mass of matter, covering some hundreds of 
propositions, is in substantial accord with what has been given through 
the most trustworthy sensitives since Swedenborg’s time. It is indeed 
usual to suppose that they have all been influenced by Swedenborg; 
and although I feel sure that this was not so in any direct manner in 
the case of the sensitives best known to myself, it is probable that 
Swedenborg’s alleged experiences have affected modem thought more 
deeply than most modem thinkers know. 

On the other hand, the second or purely dogmatic class of Swedenborg’s 
writings, — the records of instmction alleged to^have been given to him 
by spirits on the inner meaning of the Scriptures, &c., — these have more 
and more appeared to be mere arbitrary fancies ; — mere projections and 
repercussions of his own preconceived ideas. 

On the whole, then, — ^with some stretching, yet no contravention, of 
conclusions independently reached, — I may say that Swedenborg’s story, 
— one of the strangest lives yet lived by mortal men, — ^is corroborative 
rather than destructive of the slowly rising fabric of knowledge of which 
he was the uniquely gifted, but uniquely dangerous, precursor. 



220 


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[937 

It seemed desirable here to refer thus briefly to the doctrinal teachings 
of Swedenborg, but I shall deal later with the general question how 
much or how little of the statements of “ sensitives ” about the spiritual 
world — whether based on their own visions or on the allegations of their 
controlling spirits” — are worthy of credence. In the case of Sweden- 
borg there was at least some evidence, of the kind to which we can here 
appeal, of his actual communication with discarnate spirits (see 936 A) ; 
but in most other cases of alleged ecstacy there is little or nothing to 
show that the supposed revelations are not purely subjective. (See, e.g,^ 
the revelations of Alphonse Cahagnet’s sensitives, described in his Arcanes 
de la vie future devoilees and those of the “ Seeress of Prevorst,” mentioned 
in 936 B.) At most, these visions must be regarded as a kind of 
symbolical representation of the unseen world. (See, eg,, 936 C.) 

937. Among Cahagnet’s subjects, however, there was one young 
woman, Ad 61 e Maginot, who not only saw heavenly visions of the usual 
post-Swedenborgian kind, but also evidential communications — 

not unlike those of Mrs. Piper — purporting to come from discarnate 
spirits. Portunately these were recorded with unusual care and thorough- 
ness by Cahagnet, and the case thus becomes one of considerable 
importance for our inquiries. A general account of Cahagnet's work 
has recently been given in the Proceedings S.P.R. by Mr. Podmore (see 
937 A) who, though finding it almost impossible to doubt that Adfele’s 
success was due to some kind of supernormal faculty,” thinks it 
might be accounted for by telepathy from living persons. It appears 
that in all her trances Ad^le — like Mr. Sanders — was controlled by her 
own subliminal self — that is to say, her supraliminal self became dormant, 
under magnetism ” by Cahagnet, while her subliminal self in trance- 
utterance manifested a knowledge which was, as I incline to think from 
its analogies with more developed cases, obtained from the spiritual 
world. That this knowledge should be mixed with much that was 
erroneous or unverifiable is not surprising. 

It is also interesting to note the occurrence in this case of circum- 
stances which in their general character have become so habitual in trances 
of '' mediumistic ” type that they are not only found in genuine subjects, 
but are continually being simulated by the fraudulent. I refer to the so- 
called taking on of the death conditions ” of a communicating spirit, 
who, as Ad^le stated, died of suffocation. Ad^le chokes as this man 
choked, and coughed as he did. ... I was obliged to release her 
by passes; she suffered terribly.” 

I need scarcely say that this suggests incipient possession. There 
were occasional analogous instances in the early trances of Mrs. Piper, 
when Phinuit was the controlling influence (see Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. viii. p. 98, Professor Barrett Wendell’s account ; and vol. xiii. p. 384) . 
Other points of similarity between the accounts of the entranced Adfele 
and the utterances of Phinuit will be apparent to the student of the records. 



939] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 221 

938. The next case to be considered, and so far one of the most 
important, is that of D. D. Home. It may seem a strange descent from 
the celestial visions of Swedenborg to the table-tiltings and fragmentary 
trance-ntterances of modem mediums, but for our present purpose of 
finding an empirical basis upon which to establish the existence of a 
spiritual world, these later humble manifestations are more potent than 
all the pages of the Arcana Ccelestia. 

But, although I attribute much value to what evidence exists in the 
case of Home, it cannot but be deplored that the inestimable chance 
for experiment and record which this case afforded was almost entirely 
thrown away by the scientific world. Unfortunately the record is 
especially inadequate in reference to Home’s trances and the evidence for 
the personal identity of the communicating spirits. His name is known 
to the world chiefly in connection with the telekinetic phenomena which 
are said to have occurred in his presence, and the best accounts of 
which we owe to Sir William Crookes. It is not my intention, as I 
have already explained, to deal with these, but it must be understood 
that they form an integral part of the manifestations in this case, as in 
the case of Stainton Moses. For detailed accounts of them the reader 
should consult the history of Home’s life and experiences, as given in 
the works enumerated in 938 A. 

In Home’s case it is especially important to consider the question 
of fraud, since various charges of fraud have been brought against him 
— some, however, without any evidence at all, and others on second- 
hand statements only, while the most serious one — that connected with 
the famous Lyon case — related rather to his character than to the real 
nature of his powers. A detailed discussion, by Professor Barrett and 
myself, of the question of fraud, was printed in the Journal S.P.R. 
This article also includes references to the telekinetic phenomena, and 
a brief summary (with, in some cases, additional evidence) of the most 
important cases suggesting personal communications from deceased 
friends of the sitters with Home, and I give an abridgment of it in 
938 B. Such cases as received even the share of scattered and scanty 
record which Madame Home’s books indicate, are probably but a small 
portion of the evidential communications actually given through Home. 

939. As to the nature of Horae’s trances, there is not a little obscurity. 
Many of the phenomena described as oc':urring in his presence took place 
when he was not in trance at all. Sometimes his body was apparently 
possessed by deceased friends of the sitters or other discamate spirits, 
and at other times it was apparently controlled by his own spirit or sub- 
liminal self. According to the account of Viscount Adare, now Lord 
Dunraven (see Experiences in Spiritualism with Mr, D, D, Home, By 
Viscount Adare), it was unusual for extraneous physical phenomena, such 
as raps and movements and levitation of objects, to occur while Home was 
entranced. 



222 


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[940 

On the other hand, Sir William Crookes states (^Journal S.P.R., vol. 
vi. p. 341) : ‘^Certainly the two most striking things I ever saw with 
him, the fire test and visible forms, were to be observed while he was 
entranced, but it was not always easy to tell when he was in that state, 
for he spoke and moved about almost as if he were in his normal 
condition; the chief differences being that his actions were more 
deliberate, and his manner and expressions more solemn, and he 
always spoke of himself in the third person, as ^ Dan.’ ” (Compare 
934 A, the case of “X + Y=Z/’ who always spoke of his supraliminal 
self as my casket.”) 

The late Lord Dunraven says, in his introduction (p. ix.) to the book 
by Viscount Adare, that the communications at the stances described 
in the book came “ through the alphabet ” (that is, through raps or other 
telekinetic signals such as touches), or through ^^the medium in a 
trance,” and he remarks : When Mr. Home speaks in a trance there is 
no certainty whether his utterances are those of a spirit alone, or how far 
they may be mixed up with his own ideas or principles. Sometimes the 
communications are striking, at other times vague, sometimes trivial. 
Messages through the alphabet, on the other hand, carry at least a strong 
probability that they convey the thoughts of a spirit ; although even they 
too in some cases exhibit indications of being affected by the medium, 
and are therefore not quite reliable.” 

The impression produced seems to have been very different from this in 
some cases, especially when Home was — as we may suppose — directly 
possessed by a discarnate spirit. See, for example, the case of the 
control by Adah Menken {loc, cit, pp. 35-37), where Viscount Adare 
says : I was, to all intents and purposes, actually conversing with the 
dead ; listening, talking, answering, and receiving answers from Menken. 
Home’s individuality was quite gone; he spoke as Menken, and we 
both spoke of him as a third person at a distance from us.” 

940. In brief, the study of such records as are available of Home’s 
psychical phenomena leaves me with the conviction that, — apart altogether 
from the telekinetic phenomena with which they were associated, — his 
trance-utterances belong to the same natural order as those, for instance, 
of Mr. Moses and Mrs. Piper. There are, however, important differences 
between these cases, — differences which should be of special instruction 
to us in endeavouring to comprehend the possession that completely ex- 
cludes the subliminal self, and to appreciate the difficulty of obtaining 
this complete possession. 

Thus in Home’s case the subliminal self seems, throughout the longest 
series of stances of which we have a record, to have been the spirit 
chiefly controlling him during the trance and acting as intermediary 
for other spirits, who occasionally, however, took complete possession. 

In Mrs. Piper’s case, as we shall see, the subliminal self is very little in 
direct evidence; its manifestations form a fleeting interlude between- her 



942] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 223 

waking state and her possession by a discarnate spirit. In Mr. Moses’ 
case, the subliminal self was rarely in direct evidence at all when he 
was entranced ; but we infer from these other cases that it was 
probably dominant at some stage of his trance, even if at other times 
it was excluded or became completely dormant. 

And if, in Home’s case, as there seems reason to suppose, the sub- 
liminal self may have participated with discarnate spirits in the production 
of telekinetic phenomena, as well as in the communication of tests of 
personal identity, it is not improbable that the subliminal self of Mr. 
Moses may also have been actively concerned in both these classes of 
phenomena. 

941 . To the history of William Stainton Moses I now turn. In 
his case, as in that of Home, the telekinetic phenomena formed an 
integral part of the general manifestations, being so interwoven with 
them as to necessitate in my view acceptance or rejection of the whole ; 
but the evidence for the telekinetic phenomena in the case of Mr. 
Moses is comparatively slight, since they occurred almost exclusively 
in the presence of a small group of intimate personal friends, and 
were never scrutinised and examined by outside witnesses as were 
Home’s manifestations. On the other hand, we have detailed records 
of Mr. Moses’ whole series of experiences, while in the case of Home, 
as I have said, the record is very imperfect. As to the telekinetic 
phenomena, Mr. Moses himself regarded them as a mere means to an 
end, in accordance with the view urged on him by his controls,” — that 
they were intended as proofs of the power and authority of these latter, 
while the real message lay in the religious teaching imparted to him. 

942 . It was on May 9th, 1874, that Edmund Gumey and I met 
Stainton Moses for the first time, through the kindness of Mrs. 
Cowper-Temple (afterwards Lady Mount-Temple), who knew that we 
had become interested in ‘^psychical” problems, and wished to intro- 
duce us to a man of honour who had recently experienced phenomena, 
due wholly to some gift of his own, which had profoundly changed his 
conception of life. 

That evening was epoch-making in Gurney’s life and mine. Standing 
as we were in the attitude natural at the commencement of such inquiries, 
under such conditions as were then attainable, — an attitude of curiosity 
tempered by a vivid perception of difficulty and drawback, — we now met a 
man of University education, of manifest sanity and probity, who vouched 
to us for a series of phenomena, — occurring to himself, and with no 
doubtful or venal aid, — which seemed at least to prove, in confusedly 
intermingled form, three main theses unknown to Science. These were 
(i) the existence in the human spirit of hidden powers of insight and 
of communication; (2) the personal survival and near presence of the 
departed; and (3) interference, due to unknown agencies, with the 
ponderable world. He spoke frankly and fully; he showed his note- 



CHAPTER IX 


224 


[943 


books ; he referred us to his friends ; he inspired a belief which was at 
once sufficient, and which is still sufficient, to prompt to action. 

The experiences which Stainton Moses had undergone had changed 
his views, but not his character. He was already set in the mould of the 
hard-working, conscientious, dogmatic clergyman, with a strong desire to 
do good, and a strong belief in preaching as the best way to do it. For 
himself the essential part of what I have called his “ message ** lay in the 
actual words automatically uttered or written, — not in the accompanying 
phenomena which really gave their uniqueness and importance to the 
automatic processes. In a book called Sjfmf Teachings he collected 
what he regarded as the real fruits of those years of mysterious listening 
in the vestibule of a world unknown. 

And much as we may regret this too exclusive ethical preoccupation 
in a region where the establishment of actual fact is still the one thing 
needful, it must be admitted that at that time the scientific importance of 
these phenomena had hardly dawned on any mind. Among all the 
witnesses of Home’s marvels Sir William Crookes was almost the only 
man who made any attempt to treat them as reasonable men treat all the 
facts of nature. Most of the witnesses, though fully believing in the 
genuineness of the wonders, appear to have regarded them as a kind of 
uncanny diversion. The more serious sought for assurance that their 
beloved dead were still near them, and straitly charged Home to tell no 
man of the proofs which they said had brought to themselves unspeak- 
able joy. An attempt made, in 1875, by Serjeant Cox and a few others 
(among whom were Stainton Moses and myself) to get these phenomena 
more seriously discussed in a ^'Psychological Society,” languished for 
want of suitable coadjutors, and on the death of Serjeant Cox (in 1879) 
the Society was dissolved- During these important years, therefore, while 
his experiences were fresh in Stainton Moses’ mind, and while they were 
to some extent still recurring, he had little encouragement to deal with 
them from a scientific point of view. 

943 . When, however, in 1882, Professor Barrett consulted him as to 
the possibility of founding a new society, under better auspices, he warmly 
welcomed the plan. Edmund Gurney and I were asked to join, but made 
it a condition that the consent of Professor Sidgwick (with whom we had 
already been working) to act as our President should first be obtained. 
Under his guidance the Society for Psychical Research assumed a more 
cautious and critical attitude than was congenial to Stainton Moses’ warm 
heart, strong convictions, and impulsive temper, and in 1886 he left the 
Society, in consequence of the publication in the Proceedings of certain 
comments on phenomena occurring through the agency of the so-called 
" medium ” Eglinton. 

From this time he frankly confessed himself disgusted with our 
attempts at scientific method, and as main contributor to Lights and 
afterwards editor until his death, he practically reverted to " Spiritualism 



944] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 225 

as a religion,** — as opposed to psychical research as a scientific duty. And 
assuredly the religious implications of all these phenomena are worthy of 
•any man*s most serious thought But those who most feel the importance 
of the ethical superstructure are at the same time most plainly bound to 
treat the establishment of the facts at the foundation as no mere personal 
search for a faith, to be dropped' when private conviction has been 
attained, but as a serious, a continuous, a public duty. And the more 
convinced they are that their faith is sound, the more ready should 
they be to face distrust and aversion, — to lay their account for a long 
struggle with the vis ineriios of the human spirit. 

Stainton Moses was ill-fitted for this patient, uphill toil. In the first 
place he lacked, — and he readily and repeatedly admitted to me that he 
lacked, — all vestige of scientific, or even of legal instinct. The very words 
first-hand evidence,** contemporary record,** corroborative testimony,** 
were to him as a weariness to the flesh. His attitude was that of the 
preacher who is already so thoroughly persuaded in his own mind that he 
treats any alleged fact which falls in with his views as the uncriticised text 
for fresh exhortation. And in the second place, — ^though this was a minor 
matter, — his natural sensitiveness was sometimes exaggerated by gout and 
other wearing ailments into an irritability which he scarcely felt compelled 
to conceal in a journal circulating mainly among attached disciples. 

The reason for noticing these defects is that they constitute the only 
ground on which Stainton Moses* trustworthiness as a witness to his own 
phenomena could possibly be impugned. I mention them in order that I 
may say that, having read, I think, all that he has printed, and having 
watched his conduct at critical moments, I see much ground for impugning 
his judgment, but no ground whatever for doubting that he has narrated 
with absolute good faith the story of his own experience. He allowed me, 
before he left the Society, to examine almost the whole series of his 
automatic writings, — those especially which contain the evidence on which 
Spirit Identity is based ; and in no instance did I find that the printed 
statement of any case went beyond the warrant of the manuscript. 

My original impressions were strengthened by the opportunity which 
I had of examining the unpublished MSS. of Mr. Moses after his 
death on September 5 th, 1892. These consist of thirty-one note-books 
— twenty-four of automatic script, four of records of physical pheno- 
mena, and three of retrospect and summary. In addition to these, the 
material available for a knowledge of Mr. Moses* experiences consists 
of his own printed works, and the written and printed statements of wit- 
nesses to his phenomena. 

Of this available material a more detailed account will be found in 
94:3 A, together with a brief record of Mr. Moses* life. 

944. With the even tenor of this straightforward and reputable life 
was inwoven a chain of mysteries which, as I think, in what way soever 
they be explained, make that life one of the most extraordinary which 



226 


CHAPTER IX 


[945 

our century has seen. For its true history lies in that series of physical 
manifestations which began in 1872 and lasted for some eight years, and 
that series of automatic writings and trance-utterances which began in 
1873, received a record for some ten years, and did not, as is believed, 
cease altogether until the earthly end was near. 

These two series were intimately connected ; the physical phenomena 
being avowedly designed to give authority to the speeches and writings 
which professed to emanate from the same source. There is no ground 
for separating the two groups, except the obvious one that the automatic 
phenomena are less difficult of credence than the physical; but, for 
reasons already stated, it has seemed to me desirable to exclude the latter 
from detailed treatment in this work. References to accounts of them 
will, however, be found in 943 A. They included the apparent produc- 
tion of such phenomena as intelligent raps, movements of objects un- 
touched, levitation, disappearance and reappearance of objects, passage 
of matter through matter, direct writing, sounds supernormally made 
on instruments, direct sounds, scents, lights, objects materialised, hands 
materialised (touched or seen). Mr. Moses was sometimes, but not 
always, entranced while these physical phenomena were occurring. Some- 
times he was entranced and the trance-utterance purported to be that 
of a discarnate spirit. At other times, especially when alone, he wrote 
automatically, retaining his own ordinary consciousness meanwhile, and 
carrying on lengthy discussions with the spirit influence ” controlling 
his hand and answering his questions, &c. As a general rule the same 
alleged spirits both manifested themselves by raps, &c., at Mr. Moses’ 
sittings with his friends, and also wrote through his hand when he was 
alone. In this, as in other respects, Mr. Moses’ two series of writings — 
when alone and in company — were concordant, and, so to say, comple- 
mentary ; — explanations being given by the writing of what had happened 
at the stances. When direct writing” was given at the stances the 
handwriting of each alleged spirit was the same as that which the same 
spirit was in the habit of employing in the automatic script. The claim 
to individuality was thus in all cases decisively made. 

945. Now the personages thus claiming to appear may be divided 
roughly into three classes : — 

A. — First and most important are a group of persons recently deceased, 
and sometimes, as will be seen, manifesting themselves at the stances 
before their decease was known through any ordinary channel to any of 
the persons present. These spirits in many instances give tests of identity, 
mentioning facts connected with their earth-lives which are afterwards 
found to be correct. 

B. — Next comes a group of personages belonging to generations more 
remote, and generally of some distinction in their day. Grocyn, the friend 
of Erasmus-, may be taken as a type of these. Many of these also con- 
tribute facts as a proof of identity, which facts are sometimes more correct 



945] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 227 

than the conscious or admitted knowledge of any of the sitters could 
supply. In such cases, however, the difficulty of proving identity is in- 
creased by the fact that most of the correct statements are readily accessible 
in print, and may conceivably have either been read and forgotten by Mr. 
Moses, or have become known to him by some kind of clairvoyance. 

C. — A third group consists of spirits who give such names as Rector, 
Doctor, Theophilus, and, above all, Imperator. These from time to time 
reveal the names which they assert to have been theirs in earth-life. 
These concealed names are for the most part both more illustrious, and 
more remote, than the names in Class B, — and were withheld by Mr. 
Moses himself, who justly felt that the assumption of great names is 
likely to diminish rather than to increase the weight of the communication. 
He felt this in his own person ; and for a long while one of his main 
stumbling-blocks lay in these lofty and unprovable claims. Ultimately 
he came to believe even in these identities, on the general ground that 
teachers who had given him so many proofs both of their power and of 
their serious interest in his welfare were not likely to have deceived him 
on such a point. But he did not count upon a similar belief in others, 
and he expressly wished to avoid seeming to claim special authority for 
the teachings on the ground of their alleged authorship. It must be 
added also that some of these teachings themselves asserted that when 
the name of some spirit long removed from earth was given, the recipient 
must sometimes take this to imply a stream of influence emanating from 
that spirit, rather than his own presence in person. 

As to the relation of the spirits to the telekinetic phenomena, it must 
be remembered that these phenomena, strange and grotesque as they often 
seem, cannot be called meaningless. The alleged operators are at pains 
throughout to describe what they regarded as the end, and what merely 
as the means to that end. Their constantly avowed object was the 
promulgation through Mr. Moses of certain religious and philosophical 
views; and the physical manifestations are throughout described as 
designed merely as a proof of power, and a basis for the authority claimed 
for the serious teachings.^ 

That they were not produced fraudulently by Dr. Speer or other 
sitters I regard as proved both by moral considerations and by the fact 
that they are constantly reported as occurring when Mr. Moses was 
alone. That Mr. Moses should have himself fraudulently produced them 
I regard as both morally and physically incredible. That he should have 
prepared and produced them in a state of trance I regard both as physi- 
cally incredible and also as entirely inconsistent with the tenor both of his 
own reports and of those of his friends. I therefore regard the reported 
phenomena as having actually occurred in a genuinely supernormal manner, 

1 Spirit Teachings^ which includes many of these communications, has been re- 
published with a Life by Mr. Charlton Speer, and most of the remaining communica- 
tions have been published in Light by Mrs. Speer since Mr. Moses’ death. 



228 CHAPTER IX [946 

946. I now pass on to consider briefly the nature of the evidence that 
the alleged spirits were what they purported to be, as described, in the first 
place, in Mr. Moses’ books of automatic writing. The contents of these 
books consist partly of messages tending to prove the identity of com- 
municating spirits ; partly of discussions or explanations of the physical 
phenomena ; and partly of religious and moral disquisitions. 

These automatic messages were almost wholly written by Mr. Moses’ 
own hand, while he was in a normal waking state. The exceptions are of 
two kinds, (i) There is one long passage, alleged by Mr. Moses to have 
been written by himself while in a state of trance. ( 2 ) There are, here 
and there, a few words alleged to be in direct writing”; — written, that 
is to say, by invisible hands, but in Mr. Moses’ presence ; as several times 
described in the notes of stances where other persons were present. 

Putting these exceptional instances aside, we find that the writings 
generally take the form of a dialogue, Mr. Moses proposing a question in 
his ordinary thick, black handwriting. An answer is then generally, 
though not always, given ; written also by Mr. Moses, and with the same 
pen, but in some one of various scripts which differ more or less widely 
from his own. Mr. Moses’ own description of the process, as given in the 
preface to Spirit Teachings^ may be studied with advantage. I quote 
this in 946 A. 

A prolonged study of the MS. books has revealed nothing inconsistent 
with this description. I have myself, of course, searched them carefully 
for any sign of confusion or alteration, but without finding any ; and I 
have shown parts of them to various friends, who have seen no points 
of suspicion. It seems plain, moreover, that the various entries 
were made at or about the dates to which they are ascribed. They 
contain constant references to the stances which went on concurrently, 
and whose dates are independently known; and in the later books, 
records of some of these stances are interspersed in their due places 
amongst other matter. The MSS. contain also a number of allusions 
to other contemporaneous facts, many of which are independently known 
to myself. 

I think, moreover, that no one who had studied these entries through- 
out would doubt the originally private and intimate character of many of 
them. The tone of the spirits towards Mr. Moses himself is habitually 
courteous and respectful. But occasionally they have some criticism 
which pierces to the quick, and which goes far to explain to me Mr. 
Moses’ unwillingness to have the books fully inspected during his lifetime. 
He did, no doubt, contemplate their being at least read by friends after 
his death ; and there are indications that there may have been a still more 
private book, now doubtless destroyed, to which messages of an intimate 
character were sometimes consigned. 

947. The questions at issue, in short, as to these messages, refer not 
so much to their genuineness as to their authenticity^ in the proper sense of 



947] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 229 

those words. That they were written down in good faith by Mr! Moses 
as proceeding from the personages whose names are signed to them, there 
can be little doubt. But as to whether they did really proceed from those 
personages or no there may in many cases be very great doubt ; — a doubt 
which I, at least, shall be quite unable to remove. By the very condi- 
tions of the communication they cannot show commanding intellect, or 
teach entirely new truths, since their manifestations are ex hypothesi 
limited by the capacity — not by the previous knowledge, but by the pre- 
vious capacity — of the medium. And if they give facts not consciously 
known to the medium — facts however elaborate — it may, of course, be sug- 
gested that these facts have been subliminally acquired by the medium 
through some unconscious passage of the eye over a printed page, or 
else that they are clairvoyantly learnt, without the agency of any but the 
medium’s own mind, though acting in a supernormal fashion. 

This is no merely fanciful hypothesis ; nor is it a hypothesis derogatory 
to Mr. Moses* own probity. On the contrary, as will be presently seen, 
he himself prominently puts forth the circumstance (Rector’s copying 
from a closed book, an account of which I give in 947 A), which tells 
most strongly for the view that the alleged remote identities may not 
really be concerned at all. Nay, the guides themselves expressly state — 
a propos of some brief accounts of musicians said to be interested in Mr. 
Charlton Speer — that spirits can refer to books, e, g. their own biographies, 
and refresh their memory thereby. This admission of course leaves us 
with nothing more than the word of Imperator to prove that, say, Robert 
of Gloucester, or Geoffrey of Monmouth (who merely give facts about 
their own writings), were in reality present. Such guarantee — sometimes 
only indirectly implied — ^was enough for Mr. Moses at the time ; especially 
since these remoter spirits came in intermixture with nearer spirits, whose 
identity he believed could be better proved. But in a serious talk with 
me on the matter in 1886 he withdrew much of this certainty; — saying 
that in the ca$e of some of the musical spirits especially he had had no 
inward sensation of a spirit’s presence, — such as he had in some other 
cases of ^^nekrer” spirits. He repudiated, however, the idea of sub- 
conscious mediory on his part of words actually seen by himself ; feeling 
sure that some of the facts automatically written had never been beneath 
his eyes. This may very well be the case ; as he had not, I think, more 
than a mere schoolmaster’s acquaintance with English literature and 
history ; not, indeed, so much as would nowadays be expected from an 
English master in a school as good as that where he held a post. I judge 
this largely from the Notes by the Way,” which he contributed to Light 
for many years, and in which he was certainly not minimising his actual 
store of knowledge. But be this as it may, I cannot find in these historical 
communications any provable fact which might not have been drawn from 
some fairly accessible printed source. There were certain stanzas from 
Lydgate, written by the alleged Zachary Gray [or Grey], which Mr. 



230 


CHAPTER IX 


[948 

Percival verified in the British Museum. But these are to be found in 
Warton’s English Poetry ; from which they reproduce (as Professor Skeat 
has kindly pointed out to me) a philological error of Warton’s own. The 
power of reading closed books was expressly attributed to Zachary Grey ; 
and if he really possessed it he probably exercised it here \ giving thereby, 
of course, no particular proof that he was Zachary Grey rather than any 
other spirit. 

948. The evidence for identity obtained by Mr. Moses in the case 
of spirits recently departed seems at first sight more satisfactory. Some 
cases of this class are given in 948 A, and many others are to be 
found in the records of his experiences. In these cases, however, as in 
the historical ones, it is often difficult to make sure that the facts stated 
were not within the subliminal knowledge of the automatist. Sometimes 
it seems that they may have been gathered from obituary notices, casually 
observed in glancing over newspapers without the cognisance of the supra- 
liminal consciousness {eg. in the cases of Emily C. and Rosamira Lancas- 
ter) ; or similarly from tomb-stones {e.g. in the cases of Emily C. and 
Cecilia Fielden) ; or names and facts relating to persons known to the 
sitters, but not to Mr. Moses {eg. A. P. Kirkland, Dr. SpeePs sister, 
Cecilia Fielden and Marian Timmins), may perhaps have been mentioned 
in his hearing and subliminally remembered. Fanny Westoby,” again, 
reminded him of forgotten facts that had occurred during his own child- 
hood. Numerous details relating to Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and 
Man at the beginning of the eighteenth century, were given (see Proceed- 
ings S.P.R., vol. xi., pp. 74-5 and 88 ), but are to be found in his 
published ‘^Life,” which Mr. Moses may possibly have met with during 
his curacy in the Isle of Man.^ The case of Helene Smith (834-842) 
has shown us how far-reaching may be the faculties of hyperaesthesia 
and h) 9 ermnesia in the subliminal self; but in view of the then general 
ignorance of the scientific world on this subject, it is not surprising that 
both Mr. Moses and his friends absolutely rejected this explanation of his 
phenomena, and that the evidence appeared to them more conclusive than 
it possibly can to us. Whether or not the alleged spirits were concerned, 
— as may sometimes, of course, have been the case, — we can hardly avoid 
thinking that the subliminal self of the medium played at least a consider- 
able part in the communications. 

949. In two cases the announcement of a death was made to Mr. 
Moses, when the news was apparently not known to him by any normal 
means. One of these (the case of President Garfield) is given in 
948 B. The other, which I now proceed to recount (from my article 
in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 96 et seql) is in some ways the most 
remarkable of all, from the series of chances which have been needful in 
order to establish its veracity. The spirit in question is that of a lady 

1 The evidential weaknesses of these cases have been analysed by Mr, Podmore, in 
his Studies in Psychical Research^ pp. 1 25-133. 



949] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 231 

known to me, whom Mr, Moses had met, I believe, once only, and whom 
I shall call Blanche Abercromby. The publication of the true name was 
forbidden by the spirit herself, for a reason which was at once obvious to 
me when I read the case, but which was not, so far as I can tell, fully 
known to Mr. Moses. The lady’s son, whom I have since consulted, 
supports the prohibition; and I have consequently changed the name 
and omitted the dates. 

This lady died on a Sunday afternoon, about twenty-five years ago, at 
a country house about 200 miles from London. Her death, which was 
regarded as an event of public interest, was at once telegraphed to London, 
and appeared in Monday’s Times ; but, of course, on Sunday evening no 
one in London, save the Press and perhaps the immediate family, was 
cognisant of the fact. It will be seen that on that evening, near midnight, 
a communication, purporting to come from her, was made to Mr. Moses 
at his secluded lodgings in the north of London. The identity was some 
days later corroborated by a few lines purporting to come directly from 
her, and to be in her handwriting. There is no reason to suppose that 
Mr. Moses had ever seen this handwriting. His one known meeting with 
this lady and her husband had been at a seance — not, of course, of his 
own — where he had been offended by the strongly expressed disbelief of 
the husband in the possibility of any such phenomena. 

On receiving these messages Mr. Moses seems to have mentioned 
them to no one, and simply gummed down the pages in his MS. book, 
marking the book outside Private Matter.” The book when placed in 
my hands was still thus gummed down, although Mrs. Speer was cognisant 
of the communication. I opened the pages (as instructed by the executors), 
and was surprised to find a brief letter which, though containing no definite 
facts, was entirely characteristic of the Blanche Abercromby whom I had 
known. But although I had received letters from her in life, I had no 
recollection of her handwriting. I happened to know a son of hers 
sufficiently well to be able to ask his aid, — aid which, I may add, he would 
have been most unlikely to afford to a stranger. He lent me a letter for 
comparison. The strong resemblance was at once obvious, but the A. of 
the surname was made in the letter in a way quite different from that 
adopted in the automatic script. The son then allowed me to study a 
long series of letters, reaching down till almost the date of her death. 
From these it appeared that during the last year of her life she had taken 
to writing the A (as her husband had always done) in the way in which it 
was written in the automatic script. 

The resemblance of handwriting appeared both to the son and to 
myself to be incontestable ; but as we desired an experienced opinion he 
allowed me to submit the note-book and two letters to Dr. Hodgson. 
Readers of the Proceedings S.P.R. (vol. iii. pp. 201-401), may remember 
that Dr. Hodgson succeeded in tracing the authorship of the Root 
Hoomi ” letters to Madame Blavatsky and to Damodar, by evidence 



232 


CHAPTER IX 


based on a minute analysis of handwriting. As regards the present matter, 
Dr. Hodgson reported as follows : — 

5 Boylston Place, Boston, Sepember iith , 1893. 

I have compared the writing numbered 123 in the note-book of Mr. Stainton 
Moses, with epistles of January 4th, 18 — , and September 19th, 18—, written 
by B. A. The note-book writing bears many minor resemblances to that of the 
epistles, and there are also several minor differences in the formations of some 
of the letters, judging at least from the two epistles submitted to me ; but the 
resemblances are more characteristic than the differences. In addition, there 
are several striking peculiarities common to the epistles and the note-book 
writing, which appear to be especially emphasised in the latter. The note-book 
writing suggests that its author was attempting to reproduce the B. A. writing 
by recalling to memory its chief peculiarities, and not by copying from specimens 
of the B. A. writing. The signature especially in the note-book writing is 
characteristically like an imitation from memory of B. A.’s signature, I have 
no doubt whatever that the person who wrote the note-book writing intended 
to reproduce the writing of B. A. Richard Hodgson. 

The chances necessary to secure a verification of this case were more 
complex than can here be fully explained. This lady, who was quite alien to 
these researches, had been dead about twenty years when her posthumous 
letter was discovered in Mr. Moses' private note-book by one of the very 
few surviving persons who had both known her well enough to recognise 
the characteristic quality of the message, and were also sufficiently inter- 
ested in spirit identity to get the handwritings compared and the case 
recorded. 

The entries in the MS. books will now be quoted. The communica- 
tions began with some obscure drawings, apparently representing the 
flight of a bird. 

A. “It is spirit who has but just quitted the body. Blanche Abercromby 
in the flesh. I have brought her. No more. M.” 

Q. Do you mean ? 

No reply. Sunday night about midnight. The information is unknown 
to me. 

Monday morning. 

Q. I wish for information about last night. Is that true? Was it 
Mentor ? 

A. “Yes, good friend, it was Mentor, who took pity on a spirit that was 
desirous to reverse former errors. She desires us to say so. She was ever 
an enquiring spirit, and was called suddenly from your earth. She will rest 
anon. One more proof has been now given of continuity of existence. Be 
thankful and meditate with prayer. Seek not more now, but cease. We do 
not wish you to ask any questions now.” 

“t I : S : D. X Rector.” 

[A week later.] 

Q. Can you write for me now ? 

A. “Yes, the chief is here.” 



949] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 233 

Q. How was it that spirit [Blanche Abercromb3r’s] came to me ? 

A. “The mind was directed to the subject, and being active, it projected 
itself to you. Moreover, we were glad to be able to aEord you another proof 
of our desire to do what is in our power to bring home to you evidence of the 
truth of what we say.” 

Q. Is it correct to say that the direction of thought causes the spirit to be 
present ? 

A. “ In some cases it is so. Great activity of spirit, coupled with anxiety 
to discover truth and to seek into the hidden causes of things, continue to 
make it possible for a spirit to manifest. Moreover, direction of thought 
gives what you would call direction or locality to the thought. By that we 
mean that the instinctive tendency of the desire or thought causes a 
possibility of objective manifestation. Then by the help of those who, like 
ourselves, are skilled in managing the elements, manifestation becomes 
possible. This would not have been possible in this case, only that we took 
advantage of what would have passed unnoticed in order to work out another 
proof of the reality of our mission. It is necessary that there should be a com- 
bination of circumstances before such a manifestation can be possible. And 
that combination is rare. Hence the infrequency of such events, and the diffi- 
culty we have in arranging them: especially when anxiety enters into the 
matter, as in the case of a friend whose presence is earnestly desired. It 
might well be that so ready a proof as this might not occur again.’’ 

Q. Then a combination of favourable circumstances aided you. Will the 
spirit rest, or does it not require it? 

A. “We do not know the destiny of that spirit. It will pass out of our 
control. Circumstances enabled us to use its presence : but that presence 
will not be maintained.” 

Q. If direction of thought causes motion, I should have thought it 
would be so with our friends and that they would therefore be more likely to 
come- 

A. “ It is not that alone. Nor is it so with all. All cannot come to earth. 
And not in all cases does volition or thought cause union of souls. Many 
other adjuncts are necessary before such can be. Material obstacles may 
prevent, and the guardians may oppose. We are not able to pursue the 
subject now, seeing that we write with difficulty. At another time we may 
resume. Cease for the present and do not seek further.” 

t“ I : S : D. Rector.” 


A few days later, Mr. Moses says : — 

Q. The spirit B. A. began by drawing. Was it herself? 

A. “With assistance. She could not write. One day if she is able to 
return again, she will be more able to express her thoughts.” 

Q. I remember that poor man who was killed by the steam-roller drew.^ 

A. “ Do not dwell on him lest you be vexed. He was not able to express 
himself. And even as the undeveloped human mind betakes itself to symbols 
to supplement defect of language: so do spirits seek to illustrate that which 
they cannot utter. So the Holy Maid [of Kent] drew when she appeared. 
She has now progressed, and is progressing, having cast aside the weight that 
hindered her.” 


1 See 948 A. 



234 


CHAPTER IX 


[950 


Q. I am glad. Will she come back ? 

A. “ It may be, but not now.” 

[ A few days later.] 

A. “A spirit who has before communicated will write for you herself. She 
will then leave you, having given the evidence that is required.** 

“ I should much like to speak more with you, but it is not permitted. You 
have sacred truth. I know but little yet. I have much, much to learn. 

“Blanche Abercromby. 

“ It is like my writing as evidence to you.** 

950. The leading personage in the third and most remote group of 
spirits is the one known as Imperator.’* 

This spirit claims responsibility for the whole series of manifestations, 
and should therefore be mentioned here, although there is no proof of 
his identity with the historical personage whom he asserts himself to 
be. His character, however, claimed and obtained Mr. Moses* entire 
confidence* He answers for the identity and veracity of spirits intro- 
duced ; he explains the phenomena, so far as they are explained ; and he 
throughout impresses on Mr. Moses his own teaching. 

If such high and sweeping claims were made by any ordinary writer, 
we should expect to find much in the course of his writings which would 
prove their extravagance. If we ask ourselves how to disprove Imperator's 
claims we shall find no very definite answer. In the teachings themselves, 
however, it is over and over again emphasised that there must be distor- 
tion of the messages owing to their passage through the mediumistic 
channel, and if, as is possible, there may have been thus an increase of 
accuracy in some cases where Mr. Moses had some definite subliminal 
knowledge, there may also have been many causes of error due to his 
theological and other dogmatic preconceptions. With regard to the 
other remote communicators, these, according to the explanations given 
by Imperator, are high spirits, aiming at the advance of knowledge, and 
especially of religion, who have been able to discern Mr. Moses* gifts, and 
have to some extent themselves trained him for the purpose required. 
They have modified his early life : for instance, by prompting him to his 
period of retirement on Mount Athos, and by keeping him from wishing to 
marry. Some of these spirits, however, stand in very distant relation to 
Mr. Moses, and their indications of presence or collaboration are of a 
purely arbitrary kind. 

There are a group of spirits, it is said, belonging to various ages and 
countries, who are united by their desire to inform mankind of their 
destiny and duties. Each member of this group desires to show approval 
when an attempt is made at such communication. They cannot all take 
an active share, but, while some work actively, others express sympathy 
by choosing either a signature, or some special physical manifestation, to 
be associated with their names, even if not actually produced by them- 



951] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 235 

selves. This form of communication is of course not meant to be in 
itself eindeniial; it depends on the confidence reposed in the control ” in 
charge of the manifestations; — ^much as when letters of encouragement 
are read at a public meeting, their genuineness is taken on trust from the 
chairman. Even when the handwriting produced (either automatically 
through the medium, or directly^ without the intervention of human 
hands), resembles that of the deceased person, this, as elsewhere explained, 
does [not in itself prove identity. Well-known signatures especially may 
be copied by other spirits. 

As soon, however, as it is understood that such messages are not 
intended to be evidential, it seems not unnatural that they should be 
given thus. It needs no derogation from the dignity of even the highest 
spirit to express his sanction of any scheme designed to convey to men 
of goodwill,’* in fashion however humble and unassuming, some message 
of their eternal fate. 

But where identity is absolutely unprovable, as in the case of this 
group of ‘‘ men of old time,” it would be futile to discuss the probabilities 
on either side. I cannot blame Mr. Moses for his injunction to leave 
these spirits — eminent but not Divine — ^under the mask of the symbolic 
titles which they chose to assume. His reverence for Imperator was 
of a filial type which led him to desire that although there must be 
discussion about the doctrines, there should be none about the actual 
personality of the teacher to whom he felt that he owed all that was best 
in his own inner life. 

951. We must now briefly go through the points which make such 
messages as were received by Mr. Moses prim& facie evidential, which in- 
dicate, that is to say, that they actually do come in some way from their 
alleged source. A brief recapitulation of the main stages of evidential 
quality in messages given by automatic writing or by trance-utterances 
is all that will be needed here. 

(1) Evidentially lowest comes the class of messages which is by far 
the most common; messages, namely, in which, although some special 
identity may be claimed, all the facts given have been consciously known 
to the automatist. Here we may well suppose that his own personality 
alone is concerned, and that the messages have a subliminal^ but not an 
external source. 

(2) Next above these come messages containing facts likely to be 
known to the alleged spirit, and not consciously known to the automatist ; 
but which facts may nevertheless have some time been noted by the 
automatist, even unwittingly, and may have thus obtained lodgment in 
his subliminal memory. 

(3) Next come facts which can be proved, — ^with such varying degrees 
of certainty as such negative proof allows, — ^never to have been in any way 
known to the automatist ; but which nevertheless are easily to be found 
in books ; so that they may have been learnt clairvoyantly by the automa- 



236 CHAPTER IX [952 

tist himself, or learnt and communicated to him by some mind other than 
that of the alleged spirit. 

(4) Next come facts which can be proved, with similar var5dng degrees 
of certainty according to the circumstances, never to have been known 
to the automatist, or recorded in print; but which were known to the 
alleged spirit and can be verified by the memories of living persons. 

(5) Above this again would come that class of experimental messages, 
or posthumous letters, of which we have as yet very few good examples 
(see 876) ; where the departed person has before death arranged some 
special test — some fact or sentence known only to himself, which he is to 
transmit after death, if possible, as a token of his return. 

952. (6) Thus much for the various kinds of verbal messages, which 

can be kept and analysed at leisure. We must now turn to evidence of 
a different and not precisely comparable kind. In point of fact it is not 
these inferences from written matter which have commonly been most 
efficacious in compelling the survivor’s belief in the reality of the friend’s 
return. Whether logically or no, it is not so much the written message 
that he trusts, but some phantom of face and voice that he knew so well. 
It is this familiar convincing presence, — a/cro 8e Oia-KeXov avT (^ — on which 
the percipient has always insisted, since Achilles strove in vain to embrace 
Patroclus’ shade. 

How far such a phantasm is in fact a proof of any real action on the 
part of the spirit thus recognised is a problem which has been dealt with 
already in Chapter VIL The upshot of our evidence to my mind is that 
although the apparition of a departed person cannot per se rank as 
evidence of his presence, yet this is not a shape which purely hal- 
lucinatory phantasms seem often to assume ; and if there be any corro- 
borative evidence, as, for instance, writing which claims to come from 
the same person, the chance that he is really operative is considerable. 
In Mr. Moses’ case almost all the figures which he saw brought with 
them some corroboration by writing, trance-utterance, gesture-messages 
(as where a figure makes signs of assent or dissent), or raps. 

(7) And this brings us to a class of cases largely represented in Mr. 
Moses’ series, where writings professing to come from a certain spirit are 
supported by physical phenomena of which that spirit claims also to be 
the author. Whether such a line of proof can ever be made logically 
complete or no, one can imagine many cases where it would be practically 
convincing to almost all minds. Materialisations of hands, or direct 
writing in the script of the departed, have much of actual cogency; 
and these methods, with others like them, are employed by Mr. Moses’ 
'' controls ” in their efforts to establish their own identities. Physical 
phenomena in themselves, however, carry no proof of an intelligence 
outside that of the sensitive himself, and, as I have said, may in many 
cases be a mere extension of his own ordinary muscular powers, and not 
due to any external agency at all. 



954] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 237 

953. If we confine ourselves to the verbal messages, we find that 
the cases most fully represented in the records of Mr. Moses are limited 
to the first three classes mentioned above, and those which come under 
the fourth class — ^verifiable facts of which there is no printed record and 
which it is practically certain that the medium could never have known — 
are comparatively few. This may partly be accounted for by the small 
number of sitters with Mr. Moses and the fact that they were his personal 
friends. The records of Mrs. Piper, on the other hand, to which we now 
turn, are especially rich in incidents that fall under the fourth heading, 
and the evidential value of the verbal messages in this case is, therefore, 
much greater than in the case of Mr. Moses. Whereas for Mr. Moses 
the identity of many of his communicators rested largely upon their being 
guaranteed by Imperator and his group of helpers, — in the case of Mrs. 
Piper the spirits of some recently-departed friends who have given much 
evidence of their identity appear to maintain the independent reality and 
guiding control over Mrs. Piper of these same intelligences — Imperator, 
Rector, Doctor, and others — that Mr. Moses claimed as ruling in his own 
experience. We shall then in the case of Mrs. Piper again return to the 
question of the supervision of such alleged spirits. 

954. The case of Mrs. Piper differs in two important respects 
from that of W. Stainton Moses or D. D. Home. In the first place 
no telekinetic phenomena have occurred in connection with her trance- 
manifestations ; and, in the second place her supraliminal self shows no 
traces of any supernormal faculty whatsoever. She presents an instance 
of automatism of the extreme type where the possession*^ is not merely 
local or partial, but affects, so to say, the whole psychical area, — where 
the supraliminal self is for a time completely displaced, and the whole 
personality appears to suffer intermittent change. In other words, she 
passes into a trance, during which her organs of speech or writing are 
" controlled ** by other personalities than the normal waking one. Oc- 
casionally either just before or just after the trance, the subliminal self 
appears to take some control of the organism for a brief interval; but 
with this exception the personalities that speak or write during her trance 
claim to be discarnate spirits. 

Mrs. Piper’s trances may be divided into three stages : (i) Where the 
dominant controlling personality was known as Dr. Phinuit ” and used 
the vocal organs almost exclusively, communicating by trance-utterance^ 
i884“9I» 

(2) Where the communications were made chiefly by automatic writing 
in the trance under the supervision more particularly of the control known 
as George Pelham,” or “G. P.,” although “Dr. Phinuit” usually com- 
mimicated also by speech during this period, 1892-96. 

(3) Where supervision is alleged to be exercised by Imperator, Doctor, 
Rector, and others already mentioned in connection with the experiences of 
Mr. Moses, and where the communications have been mainly by writing. 



CHAPTER IX 


238 


[955 


but occasionally also by speech. This last stage, which began early in 
1897, still continues, and the final outcome remains to be seen. 

955 . I proceed now to indicate in further detail the nature of the 
evidence and the character of the manifestations themselves, and begin by 
quoting from Dr. Hodgson {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 367-68) a 
brief statement of some of the historical facts of the case. 


Mrs. Piper has been giving sittings for a period extending over thirteen 
[now, 1901, seventeen] years. Very early in her trance history she. came under 
the attention of Professor James, who sent many persons to her as strangers, 
in most cases making the appointments himself, and in no case giving their 
names. She came to some extent under my own supervision in 1887, and I 
also sent many persons to her, in many cases accompanying them and recording 
the statements made at their sittings, and taking all the care that I could to 
prevent Mrs. Piper’s obtaining any knowledge beforehand of who the sitters 
were to be. In 1889-90 Mrs. Piper gave a series of sittings in England under 
the supervision of Dr. Walter Leaf and Mr. Myers and Professor Lodge, where 
also the most careful precautions possible were taken to ensure that the sitters 
went as strangers to Mrs. Piper. Further sittings were supervised by myself 
in 1890-91 after Mrs. Piper’s return to America. Many persons who had sittings 
in the course of these earlier investigations were convinced that they were 
actually receiving communications from their “deceased” friends through 
Mrs. Piper’s trance, but although the special investigators were satisfied, from 
their study of the trance-phenomena themselves and a careful analysis of the 
detailed records of the sittings, that some supernormal power was involved, 
there was no definite agreement as to their precise significance. And to myself 
it seemed that any hypothesis that was offered presented formidable difficulties 
in the way of its acceptance. In the course of these earlier investigations the 
communications were given almost entirely through the speech-utterance of the 
trance-personality known as Pliinuit, and even the best of them were apt to 
include much matter that was irrelevant and unlike the alleged communicators, 
while there were many indications that Phinuit himself was far from being the 
kind of person in whom we should be disposed to place implicit credence. 

During the years 1892-96 inclusive, I exercised a yet doser supervision of 
Mrs. Piper’s trances than I had done in previous years, continuing to take 
all the precautions that I could as regards the introduction of persons as 
strangers. This period was marked by a notable evolution in the quality of the 
trance results, beginning early in 1892. The character of the manifestations 
changed with the development of automatic writing in the trance, and with 
what was alleged to be the continual rendering of active assistance by the 
communicator whom I have called G. P. [George Pelham]. As a result of this 
it appeared that communicators were able to express their thoughts directly 
through the writing by Mrs. Piper’s hand, instead of conveying them more 
dimly and partially through Phinuit as intermediary; and the advice and 
guidance which they, apparently, received from G. P. enabled them to avoid 
much of the confusion and irrelevancy so characteristic of the earlier mani- 
festations. 

956 . I do not propose here to discuss the hypothesis of fraud in 
this case, since it has been fully discussed in the articles referred to in 



957] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 239 

my Appendices and elsewhere, e.g, by Dr. Hodgson, Professor William 
James, Professor Newbold of Pennsylvania University, Dr. Walter Leaf, 
and Sir Oliver Lodge. I merely quote, as a summary of the argument, 
a few words of Professor James, from The Psychological Review, July, 
1898, pp. 421-22 : — 

Dr. Hodgson considers that the hypothesis of fraud cannot be seriously 
maintained. I agree with him absolutely. The medium has been under 
observation, much of the time under close observation, as to most of the 
conditions of her life, by a large number of persons, eager, many of them, to 
pounce upon any suspicious circumstance for [nearly] fifteen years. During 
that time, not only has there not been one single suspicious circumstance 
remarked, but not one suggestion has ever been made from any quarter which 
might tend positively to explain how the medium, living the apparent life she 
leads, could possibly collect information about so many sitters by natural 
means. The scientist who is confident of “fraud” here, must remember that 
in science as much as in common life a hypothesis must receive some positive 
specification and determination before it can be profitably discussed, and a 
fraud which is no assigned kind of fraud, but simply “fraud” at large, fraud 
in abstracto, can hardly be regarded as a specially scientific explanation of 
concrete facts. 

I give some further statements and references on this point in 956 A 
and B. 

957 . Nor shall I discuss at any length the character of the Phinuit 
personality. An excellent analysis of this, which I quote in 957 A, 
was given by Sir Oliver Lodge. According to my own experience, 
during Mrs. Piperis visit to England in 1889-90, different trances, and 
different parts of the same ^trance, varied greatly in quality. There were 
some interviews throughout which Phinuit hardly asked any question, and 
hardly stated anything which was not true. There were others throughout 
which his utterances showed not one glimmer of real knowledge, but con- 
sisted wholly of fishing questions and random assertions. The trances 
could not always be induced at pleasure. A state of quiet expectancy 
would usually bring one on ; but sometimes the attempt altogether failed. 
The trance when induced usually lasted about an hour, and there was 
often a marked difference between the first few minutes of a trance and 
the remaining time. On such occasions almost all that was of value 
would be told in the first few minutes; and. the remaining talk would 
consist of vague generalities or mere repetitions of what had already been 
given. Phinuit always professed himself to be a spirit communicating 
with spirits ; and he used to say that he remembered their messages for a 
few minutes after “ entering into the medium,” and then became confused. 
He was not, however, apparently able to depart when his budget of facts 
was empty. There seemed to be some irresponsible letting-off of energy 
which must continue until the original impulse was lost in incoherence. 
My own general conclusion at that time was that PhinuiPs utterances 



240 


CHAPTER IX 


[958 

must be judged as but one item in the long roll of automatic messages of 
many kinds which were only then beginning to be collected and analysed. 
I regarded it as proved that these phenomena afforded evidence of large 
extensions — telepathic or clairvoyant — of the normal powers of the 
human spirit, and thought it possible that Phinuit’s knowledge was thus 
derived from a telepathic or clairvoyant faculty, latent in Mrs. Piper, and 
manifesting itself in ways with which previous experiment had not made 
us familiar. On the other hand, the automatic messages which we 
had already studied included phenomena of very various types, some 
of which certainly pointed primd facie to the intervention — perhaps the 
very indirect intervention — of the surviving personalities of the dead, and 
I held that if such instances of communication from extra-terrene minds 
should ultimately find acceptance with science, then Phinuit’s messages, 
with all their drawbacks and all their inconsistency, would have fair claim 
to be added to the number. 

I need hardly say that it is this last hypothesis which I have since 
adopted, and although it is obvious that the diificulties concerning Phinuit’s 
identity have not been solved, it seems possible to regard him as an 
intelligence extraneous to Mrs. Piper, — as, in fact, a discarnate spirit. It 
must not be forgotten, however, that he entirely failed in his professed 
attempts to establish his personal identity, and could not succeed even in 
substantiating his claim to be a French doctor. Unfortunately we have 
no contemporary records of what occurred during Mrs. Piper’s earliest 
trances ; nor practically any information as to the first manifestations of 
the Phinuit personality. It seems clear at least that the name Phinuit 
was the result of suggestion at these earliest trances (see Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 46 - 58 ), and many may think it most probable that 
the Phinuit control ” was nothing more than a secondary personality of 
Mrs. Piper. But, according to the statements (of which there^is of course 
no evidence) made by '' Imperator,” Phinuit was an earth-bound ” or 
inferior spirit, who had become confused and bewildered in his first 
attempts at communication, and had, as we say, “ lost his consciousness 
of personal identity.” That such an occurrence is not uncommon in this 
life is plain from the cases to which I have drawn attention in Chapter II. 
of this book, and we cannot prove it to be impossible that profound 
memory disturbances should be produced in an inexperienced discarnate 
spirit when first attempting to communicate with us through a material 
organism. Be that as it may, the Phinuit personality has not manifested 
either directly or indirectly since January 1897 , when ^^Imperator” 
claimed the supervision of Mrs. Piper’s trances. 

958. There were various cases of alleged direct control ” by spirits 
other than Phinuit during the first stage of Mrs. Piper’s trance history. 
Two of jthese, the E,” control and the aunt of Professor James, are 
referred to in the report by Professor James which I have quoted in 956 A. 
These and several others are also mentioned by Dr. Hodgson in Proceed- 



959] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 241 

S.P.R,, vol. viii. pp. 28-40; but even in the most remarkable of 
these earlier cases of apparent possession ” of Mrs. Piper’s organism by 
other spirits, the evidence available for publication was scanty, and in one 
or two cases there was scarcely an3rthing to indicate that the supposed 
communicating personalities were not impersonations by Phinuit. 

The most notable case was that of a lady, Miss W., who had forty-five 
sittings, at forty-one of which the control was taken for at least part of the 
time by a personal friend, who presented marked characteristics of the 
friend it purported to be ; showed specific knowledge of private matters 
known only to that friend and the sitter ; showed a knowledge of facts 
of which he was reminded by the sitter, and in turn reminded the sitter 
of facts temporarily forgotten by her ; made some mistakes in matters 
once known to the friend, and remembered well by the sitter, and told 
the sitter of facts not known to her and afterwards verified {loc. cit 43). 

Usually, as we have seen, Phinuit acted as intermediary, reproducing 
the communications made by the deceased ” relatives or friends of the 
sitters, and in a favourable series of sittings the impression made was 
generally as described in the following case by Sir Oliver Lodge. (From 
Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 455.) 

One of the best sitters was my next-door neighbour, Isaac C. Thompson, 
F.L.S., to whose name indeed, before he had been in any way introduced, 
Phinuit sent a message purporting to come from his father. Three generations 
of his and of his wife’s family living and dead (small and compact Quaker 
families) were, in the course of two or three sittings, conspicuously mentioned, 
with identifying detail; the main informant representing himself as his 
deceased brother, a young Edinburgh doctor, whose loss had been mourned 
some twenty years ago. The familiarity and touchingness of the messages 
communicated in this particular instance were very remarkable, and can by no 
means be reproduced in any printed report of the sitting. Their case is one in 
which very few mistakes were made, the details standing out vividly correct, so 
that in fact they found it impossible not to believe that their relatives were 
actually speaking to them. 

Such cases were not usual, and on the whole, although there seemed 
to be in this first stage of Mrs. Piper’s trance history, in 1884-91, abun- 
dant proof of some supernormal faculty which demanded at least the 
hypothesis of thought-transference from living persons both near and 
distant, and suggested occasionally some power of telsesthesia or perhaps 
even of premonition, yet the main question with which we are now 
concerned, — whether Mrs. Piper’s organism was controlled, directly or 
indirectly, by discamate spirits who could give satisfactory evidence of 
their identity, — remained undecided. 

959 . More important, as regards this question of personal identity, is 
the series of sittings which formed the second stage of Mrs. Piper’s 
trance history, in the years 1892-96, of which a detailed account is given 
in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 284-582 and vol. xiv. pp. 6-49, where 
VOL. n. Q 



242 


CHAPTER IX 


[959 

the chief communicator or intermediary was G. P. This G. P., whose 
name (although, of course, well known to many persons) has been altered 
for publication into George Pelham,** was a young man of great ability, 
mainly occupied in literary pursuits. Although bom an American citizen, 
he was a member of a noble English family. I never met him, but 
I have the good fortune to include a number of his friends among my 
own, and with several of these I have been privileged to hold intimate 
conversation on the nature of the communications which they received. I 
have thus heard of many significant utterances of G. P.’s, which are held 
too private for print ; and I have myself been present at sittings where 
G. P. manifested. For the full discussion of the evidence tending to 
prove the identity of G. P., I refer my readers to the original report in the 
Proceedings S.P.R. I give in 959 A and B a detailed account of the 
circumstances of the first communications of G. P., and quote here 
a general summary, given by Dr. Hodgson several years later, of the 
whole series of his manifestations. (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. 
pp. 328-330.) 

On the first appearance of the communicating G. P. to Mr. Hart in March 
1892, he gave not only his own name and that of the sitter, but also the names 
of several of their most intimate common friends, and referred specifically to 
the most important private matters connected with them. At the same sitting 
reference was made to other incidents unknown to the sitters, such as the 
account of Mrs, Pelham*s taking the studs from the body of G. P. and giving 
them to Mr. Pelham to be sent to Mr. Hart, and the reproduction of a notable 
remembrance of a conversation which G. P. living had with Katharine, the 
daughter of his most intimate friends, the Howards. These were primary ex- 
amples of two kinds of knowledge concerning matters unknown to the sitters, 
of which various other instances were afterwards given ; knowledge of events 
connected with G. P. which had occurred since his death, and knowledge of 
special memories pertaining to the G. P. personality before death. A week 
later, at the sitting of Mr. Vance, he made an appropriate inquiry after the 
sitter’s son, and in reply to inquiries rightly specified that the sitter’s son had 
been at college with him, and further correctly gave a correct description of the 
sitter’s summer home as the place of a special visit. This, again, was paralleled 
by many later instances where appropriate inquiries were made and remem- 
brances recalled concerning other personal friends of G. P. Nearly two weeks 
later came his most intimate friends, the Howards, and to these, using the voice 
directly, he showed such a fulness of private remembrance and specific know- 
ledge and characteristic intellectual and emotional quality pertaining to G. P. 
that, though they had previously taken no interest in any branch of psychical 
research, they were unable to resist the conviction that they were actually con- 
versing with their old friend G. P. And this conviction was strengthened by 
their later experiences. Not least important, at that time, was his anxiety 
about the disposal of a certain book and about certain specified letters which 
concern matters too private for publication. He was particularly desirous 
of convincing his father, who lived in Washington, that it was indeed G. P. who 
was communicating, and he soon afterwards stated that his father had taken 
his photograph to be copied, as was the case, though Mr. Pelham had not 



959] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 243 

informed even his wife of this fact. Later on he reproduced a series of 
incidents, unknown to the sitters, in which Mrs. Howard had been engaged in 
her own home. Later still, at a sitting with his father and mother in New 
York, a further intimate knowledge was shown of private family circumstances, 
and at the following sitting, at which his father and mother were not present, 
he gave the details of certain private actions which they had done in the 
interim. At their sitting, and at various sittings of the Howards, appropriate 
comments were made concerning different articles presented which had 
belonged to G. P. living, or had been familiar to him ; he inquired after 
other personal articles which were not presented at the sittings, and showed 
intimate and detailed recollections of incidents in connection with them. In 
points connected with the recognition of articles with their related associations 
of a personal sort, the G. P. communicating, so far as I know, has never 
failed. Nor has he failed in the recognition of personal friends. I may say 
generally that out of a large number of sitters who went as strangers to Mrs. 
Piper, the communicating G. P. has picked out the friends of G. P. living, pre- 
cisely as the G. P. living might have been expected to do [thirty cases of 
recognition out of at least one hundred and fifty persons who have had sittings 
with Mrs. Piper since the first appe^ance of G. P., and no case of false 
recognition], and has exhibited memones in connection with these and other 
friends which are such as would naturally be associated as part of the G. P. 
personality, which certainly do not suggest in themselves that they originate 
otherwise, and which are accompanied by the emotional relations which 
were connected with such friends in the mind of G. P. living. At one of 
his early communications G. P. expressly undertook the task of rendering 
all the assistance in his power towards establishing the continued existence 
of himself and other communicators, in pursuance of a promise of which 
he himself reminded me, made some two years or more before his death, 
that if he died before me and found himself “still existing,” he would 
devote himself to prove the fact; and in the persistence of his endeavour 
to overcome the difficulties in communicating as far as possible, in his con- 
stant readiness to act as amanuensis at the sittings, in the effect which he 
has produced by his counsels, — to myself as investigator, and to numerous 
other sitters and communicators, — ^he has, in so far as I can form a judg- 
ment in a problem so complex and still presenting so much obscurity, 
displayed all the keenness and pertinacity which were eminently character- 
istic of G. P. living. 

Finally, the manifestations of this G. P. communicating have not been of a 
fitful and spasmodic nature, they have exhibited the marks of a continuous 
living and persistent personality, manifesting itself through a course of years, 
and showing the same characteristics of an independent intelligence whether 
friends of G. P. were present at the sittings or not. I learned of various cases 
where in my absence active assistance was rendered by G. P. to sitters who 
had never previously heard of him, and from time to time he would make brief 
pertinent reference to matters with which G. P. living was acquainted, though 
I was not, and sometimes in ways which indicated that he could to some extent 
see what was happening in our world to persons in whose welfare G. P. living 
would have been specially interested. 

The sitter called Mr. Hart, to whom G. P. first manifested, died at 
Naples three years afterwards, and communicated, with the help of G. P., 



244 CHAPTER IX [960 

on the second day after his death. I give an account of his com- 
munications in 959 0. 

960. There are numerous instances in the reports in the Proceedings^ 
(see vol. vi. pp. 647 - 50 ; vol. viii. pp. 15 - 26 ; vol. passim ; and 
voL xvi. pp. 13 1 - 3 ), of the giving of information unknown to the sitters 
and afterwards verified. A striking illustration of this occurred in the 
case of the lady called “ Elisa Manners/* whose near relatives and friends 
concerned in the communications were known to myself. I give a brief 
account of her first communications in 960 A. On the morning after the 
death of her uncle, called F. in the report, she described an incident 
in connection with the appearance of herself to her uncle on his death- 
bed. I quote Dr. Hodgson’s account of this {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. 
xiii. p. 378 . Foot-note). 

The notice of his [F.’s] death was in a Boston morning paper, and I 
happened to see it on my way to the sitting. The first writing of the sitting 
came from Madame Elisa, without my expecting it. She wrote clearly and 
strongly, explaining that F. was there ‘with her, but unable to speak directly, 
that she wished to give me an account of how she had helped F. to reach her. 
She said that she had been present at his death-bed, and had spoken to him, 
and she repeated what she had said, an unusual form of expression, and in- 
dicated that he had heard and recognised her. This was confirmed in detail 
in the only way possible at that time, by a very intimate friend of Madame 
Elisa and myself, and also of the nearest surviving relative of F. I showed my 
friend the account of the sitting, and to this friend, a day or two later, the 
relative, who was present at the death-bed, stated spontaneously that F. when 
dying said that he saw Madame Elisa who was speaking to him, and he re- 
peated what she was saying. The expression so repeated, which the relative 
quoted to my friend, was that which I had received from Madame Elisa 
through Mrs. Piper’s trance, when the death-bed incident was of course entirely 
unknown to me. 

Rare are the Peak in Darien ” cases (see section 718), but cases like 
this are rarer still. 

961. As will be seen from the account of Elisa Manners in 960 A, 
some attempt was made in her case to speak and write Italian. In the 
case which follows there was an attempt to write Hawaiian. (From Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. p. 337 .) 

This was at a sitting arranged for by Mrs. Howard in October 1893. Mrs. 
Howard made some notes at the time from which the report was prepared, and 
I obtained some additional information later from the sitter, Mr. L. Yernon 
Briggs. The original writing was apparently lost, and Mr. Briggs never had 
the opportunity of studjdng it after the sitting. The communication purported 
to come from a Honolulu boy named Kalua, who became much attached to 
Mr. Briggs during a six months’ stay of Mr. Briggs in Honolulu in 1881, and 
who followed Mr. Briggs to Boston under somewhat romantic circumstances 
in 1883. He was soon sent back to his native island, but again returned to 
Boston, where he was shot in 1886, in a sailor’s Bethel, whether inten- 



962] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 245 

tionally or not was unknown. There was some suspicion against a 
Swede, who was imprisoned, but there was no evidence against him, and 
he was finally discharged. The Swede said that Kalua had accidentally 
shot himself with a revolver, and eventually confessed that after the ac- 
cident he had himself hidden the revolver behind a flue, where, after taking 
part of the chimney down, it was found. Mr. Briggs bad taken a handker- 
chief belonging to Kalua to the sitting. Kalua had been shot through 
the heart, and there was some confusion apparently about the locality 
of the suffering, “stomach” and “side” being mentioned, under what ap- 
peared to be the direct control of the voice by “Kalua,” and Mr. Briggs 
asked if it was Kalua. Phinuit then spoke for “ Kalua,” who said that he 
did not kill himself, that he had been gambling with the other man who 
disputed with him and shot him, but did not mean to, and who threw the 
revolver “ into the hot box where the pepples are ” (meaning “ the furnace ” 
and the “coals”), and hid his purse under the steps where he was killed. 
“ Kalua ” also said there was shrubbery near it. The cellar of the house was 
examined, but no purse was found, and there was no shrubbery in the cellar. 
“ Kalua ” tried to write Hawaiian, but the only “ ordinary ” words deciphered 
were “ lei ” (meaning wreaths^ which he made daily for Mr. Briggs) which was 
written clearly and frequently, and an attempt at “ aloha ” — ^greeting. Phinuit 
tried to get the answer to the question where Kalua’s father was, but could only 
succeed in getting “Hiram.” But the writing gave the answer “Hawaiin 
Islands.” In reply to the question which one, the answer in writing was 
Kawai^ but Phinuit said Tawai, The word is spelt Kawai, but is pronounced 
Tawai by the natives of the island itself and in the island where Kalua was 
born. The natives of the other islands call it Kawai. 

962. Not least important as regards the question of identity are some 
of the communications purporting to come from young children. I give in 
962 A a synopsis of the chief points in connection with the twin children, 
Margaret and Ruthie, of Dr. A, B. Thaw, and quote here an account of 
communications coming from the child of Mrs. Katherine Paine Sutton. 
(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 386-9.) 

In the two sittings which Mrs. Sutton had in December 1893 (p. 484),^ 
she had articles which had been used by her recently deceased little girl 
Katherine. One incident that was characteristic in the case of Ruthie, the 
patting of her father^s face, was repeated in the case of Katherine when it had 
no special significance. There were only three points that might be described 
as in part common to the two children, Ruthie and Katherine. Katherine 
had “ lovely curls,” mentioned by Phinuit, and also called for the “ tick-tick,” 
but Phinuit added correctly that she called it “ the clock,” and the word badee 
was given correctly, as Ruthie also used to pronounce it. Apparently the 
only incorrect statement purporting to come from the child was that she called 
a lady (Mrs. C., a friend of Mrs. Sutton, who purported to be present in “spirit,” 
bringing the child, and whose Christian name and surname were given correctly 
by Phinuit) Auntie, The lady was not her aunt. The statements made came 
through Phinuit. Concerning a silver medal it was said that she wanted to bite 
it, and concerning a string of buttons that she wanted to put them in her 
mouth, both correct. Phinuit said that she had no sore throat any more, and 
1 The references in this passage are to the pages of Dr. Hodgson's Report. 



CHAPTER IX 


246 


[962 


that she kept showing him her tongue. Katherine living had sore throat and 
her tongue was paralysed. She gave correctly the name by which she called 
herself, Kakie^ the name Dodo by which she called her brother George, the 
name Bagie by which she called a living sister, Margaret, and the name 
Eleanor, of another living sister for whom she called much in her last illness. 
She also asked for Dinah, this being the name of an old rag-doll. She said 
truly that Dodo used to march with her, ** He put me way up.” She wanted 
to go to “wide horsey” — as the living Katherine had pleaded all through 
her illness, and to be taken “ to see the mooley-cow,” the name by which the 
living Katherine called the cow, which she was taken almost daily to see. 
She said she had “the pretty white flowers you put on me,” and Phinuit 
described lilies of the valley, which were the flowers that had been placed 
in the casket (see p. 303). She said she was happy with grandma — Mrs. 
Sutton’s mother had been dead many years — and later on wanted to send 
her love to her grandma and also apparently to her great grandma who was 
referred to as Marmie. She had a grandmother and also a great-grandmother 
then living, and Marmie was the name by which Mr. and Mrs. Sutton spoke 
of the great-grandmother, but Katherine always called her Grammie. She 
also referred to two songs she used to sing: “Bye-bye, 0 baby bye,” and 
“ Row Row, my song.” This “ Row Row ” song was sung frequently by 
Katherine during her illness, and was the last sung by her when living, and 
she asked Mr. and Mrs. Sutton to sing it at the sitting. They sang the first 
four lines, and the voice— presumably still “ controlled ” by Phinuit in imitation 
of Katherine — sang with them. Phinuit then hushed the sitters, and the voice 
sang the remaining four lines [alone]. It is, of course, a familiar child’s song ,, 
(p. 486). At the second sitting a fortnight later, the voice sang all eight lines 
alone, then asked Mrs. Sutton to sing it with her, as she did, and then at 
Mrs. Sutton’s request also sang with her the other song “ Bye-bye,” precisely, 
according to Mrs. Sutton, as the living Katherine sang it. Mr. Sutton, who 
was present at the first sitting, did not attend the second sitting, and he was 
asked for immediately after this singing, which came at the beginning of the 
sitting. “ Kakie wants papa.” This was a very characteristic expression. 
There were indications suggesting a knowledge of what was going on in 
Mrs. Sutton’s family. At the first sitting Katherine said she went “to see 
horsey” every day. The sitters had been staying in the country with Mr. 
Sutton’s parents and had been driving frequently. Margaret, a living sister, 
was still there, and driving daily. Mrs. Sutton, who has had many psychical 
experiences herself in seeing the “apparitions” of “deceased ” persons (see p. 
484) had “seen Kakie” during that visit to Mr. Sutton’s parents. At the 
second sitting Katherine said that she saw Bagie with grandma, and that 
she played with Eleanor every day and liked the little bed. A lady had 
recently lent Eleanor a doll’s bed, but Mrs. Sutton had not associated this 
with Kakie. There were incidents at both sittings which showed associations 
that seemed to be in the mind of the child, which did not awaken the 
corresponding associations in the minds of the sitters even when the con- 
temporary notes to the sittings were made. Thus in the first sitting she 
asked for “ horsey.” Mrs. Sutton gave a little toy horse with which the child 
had played during her illness. But the child said “ big horsey, not this little 
one,” and Mrs. Sutton surmised that she referred to another toy cart-horse that 
she used to like. At the second sitting came “Kakie wants the horse,” and 
the little horse was again given. 



962 ] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 247 

“ No, that is not the one. The big horse — so big. [Phinuit shows how 
large.] Eleanor’s horse. Eleanor used to put it in Kakie’s lap. She loved 
that horsey.” 

These additional particulars, which were true, then reminded Mrs. Sutton 
of the horse referred to, which was packed away in another city, and which had 
not occurred to the mind of Mrs. Sutton in connection with Kakie. Similarly 
at the first sitting she asked two or three times for “ the little book.” The sitter 
noted that she liked a linen picture-book. But the remarks made at her second 
sitting suggest that the little book in the child’s mind was not this one. “ Kakie 
wants the little bit of a book mamma read by her bedside, with the pretty 
bright things hanging from it— mamma put it in her hands — the last thing she 
remembers.” Mrs. Sutton states that this was a little prayer-book with a cross 
and other symbols in silver attached to ribbons for marking the places, and 
that it was sent to her by a friend after Kakie had ceased to know any one 
except perhaps for a passing moment. Mrs. Sutton read it when Kakie seemed 
unconscious, and after Kakie^s death ^ placed it in her hands to prevent the 
blood settling in the nails. She adds later that Mrs. Piper’s hands, when the 
book was asked for at the sitting, were put into the same position as Kakie’s. 

Another book was mentioned at the second sitting which apparently was 
the one Mrs, Sutton thought of at the first sitting. “ Kakie wants the book 
with red letters and pictures of animals.” Correct description. 

At this second sitting also Katherine again apparently referred to Mrs. C., 
— ^who was not a relative, — as Auntie^ and to her great-grandmother as Marmie. 
At this sitting Mrs. Sutton twice saw the “ apparition ” of Kakie (and she also 
saw the figure of Dr. Clarke, another communicator, just as Phinuit said : ** Here 
is an old gentleman who wants to speak to you, Dr. Clarke.” See p. 4S4). 
On one of these occasions Mrs. Sutton “ saw her for a moment standing at the 
table trying to reach a spool ” of silk, and at the same moment Phinuit reached 
for it, saying : “ She wants that, she and Eleanor used to play with. She calls 
it Eleanor’s.” This was all true, but the sitter “had not connected it with 
Eleanor in her thoughts.” Another incident I quote here just as it is given in 
the detailed report of the sitting. 

[Kakie asks for her ball. I gave it to Phinuit, who tries to find what she 
wants to do with it.] 

“ Bite it ? Toss it ? Roll it ? Throw it ? ” 

[No, she wants a string. Mrs. H. gave him a string. He tries to tie it 
around the ball.] [A little red wooden ball with a hole through it. The ball 
had a string through it when she used to play with it.] 

“ No, that is not right — through it.” 

“ There, there, be a good little girl. Don’t cry. Don’t be impatient. You 
want your mamma to see how you do it, so she will know it is you, don’t you, 
dear ? Old man will do it for her.” 

[He put the string through, held it up, and hit it with the finger, making it 
swing.] 

“ That is it, is it not, darling ? Nice little girl as ever was.” 

[While she was sick it was her great delight to have me hold the string and 
let her hit the little red ball with her finger or spoon. She made the motions 
as if doing it, after she became unconscious.] . 

^ If the human personality survives death, it may be a difficult question to decide in 
individual cases precisely when the consciousness is finally withdrawn from the body. 



248 CHAPTER IX [963 

963. There are numerous incidents in connection with Mrs. Piper’s 
trances, which indicate not only that articles which have been worn by 
deceased persons may facilitate communications from such persons, but 
that articles which have been worn by persons still living may afford clues 
to long past events ; but how these objects afford aid in the acquisition 
of knowledge of the past events is still entirely obscure. (See, 
Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 460; vol. viii. pp. 15-27.) This faculty of 
what I have called retrocognitive telaesthesia, is, as we have seen, some- 
times manifested in cases where there is no reason to ascribe it to any 
extraneous spirit. (See 572, 572 A, 572 B.) 

The alleged controlling spirits sometimes seem to possess a super- 
normal knowledge of the present bodily state of living persons, with 
the occasional power of foretelling organic changes, including death, or 
of foreseeing the future surroundings of a living person. Here, again, 
we have had instances of similar supernormal knowledge on the part of 
the subliminal self (see 565 A, 573 F). Some of the most specific 
instances of predictions of deaths given through Mrs. Piper are quoted 
in 963 A. In one of these cases a death was predicted to occur soon,” 
and it occurred a little more than a year later. But in several other cases 
where deaths were predicted to occur ^^soon” or before very long,” 
or where similar expressions were used, the time elapsing before the 
death has extended from about two to not less than six years. There 
is little evidence of any true prevision of other events than death through 
Mrs. Piper’s trance. In some cases, events seem to have been partially 
foreseen, but the predictions made were not completely fulfilled. (See 
Proceedings S.P.R,, vol. viii. p, 1 24, and compare 425 C.) 

Setting aside the instances explicable by some telepathic or telses- 
thetic inference, the discamate spirits claim occasionally to see specific 
future scenes in connection with particular persons — of the origin of 
which scenes they seem unable to offer any explanation. They do not 
profess usually to be aware beforehand of the precise time of death of a 
dying person, — except perhaps in cases where the death is very near, — 
when it is claimed that the approaching death becomes known to the 
incarnate spirit (not necessarily to the supraliminal self) as well as to the 
discamate spirit of some near relative, but the real source of the know- 
ledge remains, of course, obscure,^ 

1 On this point see 426 A, 426 B, 425 E, 717, 717 B, 852 A, 866 A (name of 
distant dying person written ) , 874 A and 927 B. Compare the case of “ Elisa Mannors 
in section 960, the cases of Mrs. Alger and Mrs, O'Gorman in Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. V. pp. 293-95, and the case from Mrs. Meredith in Journal S.P.R., vol. x. 
p. 136. In the cases of Mrs. Alger and Mrs. O’Gorman the prediction of death seems 
to have emanated from the incarnate spirit of the person who died, and the precise date^^ 
of the death was given, in the first case four days beforehand — though the evidence 
on this point is somewhat doubtful — and in the second case a week beforehand. In the 
case quoted in 874 A, the precise date of death was announced forty days beforehand 
by the tilts of a table, the communication purporting to come from a discamate spirit. 



965] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 249 

964. With regard to the last of the three periods of Mrs, Piper^s 
trance-history to which I referred in section 954, the only detailed pub- 
lished accounts are contained in Professor Hyslop’s report of his sittings in 
Proceedings S.P.R,, vol. xvi. But neither his records nor the manuscript 
records which I have seen contain any proof of the personal identity of 
the alleged spirits called “Imperator,” ""Doctor,” ""Rector,” &:c., or any 
proof of the identity of these intelligences with those claimed by Mr, 
Moses. (See 945, j^950, and Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 408-9.) 
Whether any such proof will be forthcoming in the future remains to 
be seen, — or indeed, whether proof or disproof for us at present is 
even possible. 

965. "* The accounts here quoted are perhaps sufficient to illustrate that 
theory of possession which seems especially to apply to the case of Mrs. 
Piper, — according to which her bodily organism is controlled by dis- 
camate spirits who attempt to prove their identity by reproducing 
recollections of their earthly lives.^ 

In the case of Mr. Moses the control of the mind or body by dis- 
carnate spirits seemed to vary in degree at different times, and the 
medium’s own preconceptions seemed to form an important factor in the 
communications he received, — and it is obvious that in Mrs. Piper’s case 
also the control must be limited by the idiosyncrasies of the medium. 
But we must continually bear in mind the impossibility of distinguishing 
the different elements that may enter into so complex a phenomenon. 

I have spoken of parallel series of manifestations indicating on the one 
hand the powers of the subliminal self, which culminate in ecstasy, and 
on the other the agency of discamate spirits, leading on to possession. 
But the phenomena are not, in fact, so simply arranged. It seems pro- 
bable that when a spirit can control a sensitive’s organism, the sensitive’s 
own subliminal self may be able to do the same. The transparency 
which renders the one possession possible facilitates also the other. This 
may be one reason for the admixture seen in most trance utterances, — of 
elements which come from the sensitive’s own mind with elements inspired 
from without To this source of confusion must be added the influence 
of the sensitive’s supraliminal self also, whose habits of thought and turns 
of speech must needs appear whenever use is made of the brain-centres 
which that supraliminal self habitually controls. Further, we cannot draw 
a clear line between the influence of the organism itself, — as already 
moulded by its own indwelling spirit, — and the continuing influence of 
that spirit, not altogether separated from the organism. That is to say, 
the sensitive’s own previous ideas may go on developing themselves during 

1 Some ingenious experiments designed to test how living persons can be identified 
on somewhat similar evidence were carried out by Professor Hyslop, as described in 
his report, Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xvl pp. 537-623. In these experiments, series 
of telegraphic messages were sent from one person to another, one person knowing who 
the other was, but not vice versd. 



2SO 


CHAPTER IX 


[966 

the trance, which may thus be incomplete. The result may be a kind of 
mixed telepathy between the sitter, the sensitive *s spirit, and the extraneous 
spirit. I believe that sometimes during one and the same access of trance 
all these elements are in turn apparent ; and a long familiarity with the 
sensitive will be needed if we would disentangle the intermingled threads. 
In the case of Mrs. Piper it may be supposed that in the earliest stages 
of her trance-history she was not completely controlled by discarnate 
spirits, but that her subliminal self was used as an intermediary, — as a 
hypnotised subject, so to say, following the suggestions of discarnate 
spirits j that in the next stage the control by discarnate spirits was of the 
more direct and complete kind which I have specially called possession ; 
and that in her last period she has reverted once more to the earlfer stage 
where her subliminal self, or its influence, is not completely excluded. 

Whether this be so or not, the apparent distinction between the 
control by her own subliminal self and that by the alleged spirits is still 
not less marked than in the early stages. Generally it is even more 
noticeable, owing to the usual brief intervals of ecstasy (after the control 
by the discarnate spirit has ceased) , when her own spirit or subliminal self 
resumes control, and appears to see and occasionally to describe scenes in 
the spiritual world, sometimes transmitting messages of evidential value ; 
of all which she retains no recollection on her return to the normal state. 

There is much additional evidence yet to be published that has come 
through Mrs. Piper during the last few years in support of the claim that 
recently deceased persons are communicating, besides instances of failures 
and confusion which we must doubtless continue to expect under the 
conditions apparently involved in the communications. It seems from 
our experience thus far that the most valuable evidence we can hope to 
obtain of personal identity is likely to come from spirits who have recently 
passed over with all their inexperience of that other world, but it may be 
that these are aided in their task by more remote spirits whose identity 
we can neither prove nor disprove. It is perhaps more reasonable to 
suppose that there is such supervision — if we are in actual communication 
with a spiritual world at all — than to think that the great spirits of the 
past take no abiding interest in the communication of that spiritual world 
with ours. 

966. We must now try to form some more definite idea — based not 
on preconceived theories but on our actual observation of trances — of 
the processes of possession ; though it is hardly necessary to say that the 
most adequate conception that we can reach at present must be restricted 
and distorted by the limitations of our own material existence, and can 
only be expressed by the help of crude analogies. 

I may say at the outset that this singular union between two widely 
different human beings — this possession of the organism — has in it 
nothing whatever that is weird or alarming. In Mrs. Piper’s case the 
processes of entering and leaving the trance, which used to be accom- 



967] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 251 

panied, in Professor James* words, by a good deal of respiratory dis- 
turbance and muscular twitching,** are now as tranquil as the acts of 
going to sleep and awaking; and no result of the trance upon her 
waking state is evident, except a passing fatigue if the trance has been 
too far prolonged, or, on the other hand, a state of vague diffused hap- 
piness such as sometimes follows the awaking from a pleasant dream. 
There has been no harmful influence on health — possibly a beneficial 
influence. At any rate, after serious injury from a sleigh accident, and 
consequent operations, Mrs. Piper is now “a thoroughly healthy woman.** 
In character she has always belonged to a quiet domestic New England 
type, much occupied with her household and her children.^ In Dr. 
Hodgson*s view, her control by intelligences above her own has in- 
creased her stability and serenity. If we look, in fact, at the flesh-and- 
blood side of this strange converse, we seem to watch a process of natural 
evolution opening upon us with unexpected ease ; so that our main duty 
is carefully to search for and train such other favoured individuals as 
already show this form of capacity — always latent, perhaps, and now 
gradually emergent in the human race. Die Geisferwelt ist nicht ver- 
schlossen; these sensitives have but to sink into a deep recueillement, a. 
guarded slumber, and that gate stands manifestly ajar. It is rather on 
the other side of the gulf that the diflSculties, the perplexities, come 
thick and fast. 

967. Let us try to realise what kind of feat it is which we are ex- 
pecting the disembodied spirit to achieve. Such language, I know, again 
suggests the medicine-man*s wigwam rather than the study of the white 
philosopher. Yet can we feel sure that the process in our own minds 
which has (as we think) refined and spiritualised man’s early conceptions 
of an unseen world has been based upon any observed facts ? 

In dealing with matters which lie outside human experience, our only 
clue is some attempt at continuity with what we already know. We can- 
not, for instance, form independently a reliable conception of life in an 
unseen world. That conception has never yet been fairly faced from the 
standpoint of our modern ideas of continuity, conservation, evolution. 
The main notions that have been framed of such survival have been 
framed first by savages and then by a priori philosophers. To the man of 
science the question has never yet assumed enough of actuality to induce 
him to consider it with scientific care. He has contented himself, like 
the . mass of mankind, with some traditional theory, some emotional 
preference for some such picture as seems to him satisfying and exalted. 
Yet he knows well that this subjective principle of choice has led in 
history to the acceptance of many a dogma which to more civilised per- 
ceptions seems in the last degree blasphemous and cruel. 

The savage, I say, made his own picture first. And he at any rate 

1 She was married in 1881 and has two daughters, one seventeen, the other eighteen 
years old. 



252 


CHAPTER IX 


[968 

dimly felt after a principle of continuity; although he applied it in 
crudest fashion. Yet the happy hunting-ground and the faithful dog 
were conceptions not more arbitrary and unscientific than that eternal 
and unimaginable worship in vacuo which more accredited teachers have 
proclaimed. And, passing on to modem philosophic conceptions, one 
may say that where the savage assumed too little difierence between the 
materid and the spiritual world the philosopher has assumed too much. 
He has regarded the gulf as too unbridgeable ; he has taken for granted 
too clean a sweep of earthly modes of thought. Trying to shake off time, 
space, and definite form, he has attempted to transport himself too magic- 
ally to what may be in reality an immensely distant goal. 

968. Have we new philosophical conceptions solid enough to with- 
stand the impact of even a small mass of actual evidence ? Have our notions 
of the dignified and undignified in nature — the steady, circular motion of 
the planets, for instance, as opposed to the irregular and elliptical — guided 
us in the discovery of truth? Would not Aristotle, divinising the fixed 
stars by reason of their very remoteness, have thought it undignified to 
suppose them compacted of the same elements as the stones under his 
feet? May not disembodied souls, like stars, be of a make rather closer 
to our own than we have been wont to imagine ? 

What, then, is to be our conception of identity prolonged beyond the 
tomb? In earth-life the actual body, in itself but a subordinate element 
in our thought of our friend, did yet by its physical continuity override as 
a symbol of identity all lapses of memory, all changes of the character 
within. Yet it was memory and character, — the stored impressions upon 
which he reacted, and his specific mode of reaction, — which made our 
veritable friend. How much of memory, how much of character, must he 
preserve for our recognition ? 

Do we ask that either he or we should remember always, or should 
remember all? Do we ask that his memory should be expanded into 
omniscience and his character elevated into divinity? And, whatever 
heights he may attain, do we demand that he should reveal to us ? Are 
the limitations of our material world no barrier to him? 

969. It is safest to fall back for the present upon the few points which 
these commxmications do seem to indicate. The spirit, then, is holding 
converse with a living man, located in a certain place at a certain moment, 
and animated by certain thoughts and emotions. The spirit (to which I 
must give a neuter pronoun for greater clearness) in some cases can find 
and follow the man as it pleases. It is therefore in some way cognizant 
of space, although not conditioned by space. Its mastery of space may 
perhaps bear somewhat the same relation to our eyesight as our eyesight 
bears to the gropings of the blind. Similarly, the spirit appears to be 
partly cognizant of our time, although not wholly conditioned thereby. 
It is apt to see as present both certain things which appear to us as past 
and certain things which appear to us as future. 



970] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 253 

Once more, the spirit is at least partly conscious of the thought and 
emotions of its earthly friend, so far as directed towards itself; and this 
not only when the friend is in the presence of the sensitive, but also (as 
G. P. has repeatedly shown) when the friend is at home and living Ixis 
ordinary life. 

Lastly, it seems as though the spirit had some occasional glimpses of 
material fact upon the earth (as the contents of drawers and the like), not 
manifestly proceeding through any living mind. I do not, however, recall 
any clear evidence of a spirit’s perception of material facts which provably 
have never been known to any incarnate mind whatever. 

970. Accepting this, then, for argument’s sake, as the normal con- 
dition of a spirit in reference to human things, what process must it 
attempt if it wishes to communicate with living men? That it will wish 
to communicate seems probable enough, if it retains not only memory of 
the loves of earth, but actual fresh consciousness of loving emotion 
directed towards it after death. 

Seeking then for some open avenue, it discerns something which cor- 
responds (in G. P.’s phrase) to a light — a glimmer of translucency in the 
confused darkness of our material world. This light ” indicates a sen- 
sitive — a human organism so constituted that a spirit can temporarily 
inform or control it, not necessarily interrupting the stream of the sen- 
sitive’s ordinary consciousness; perhaps using a hand only, or perhaps, 
as in Mrs. Piper’s case, using voice as well as hand, and occupying 
all the sensitive’s channels of self-manifestation. The difficulties which 
must be inherent in such an act of control are thus described by Dr. 
Hodgson : — 

If, indeed, each one of us is a ^ spirit ’ that survives the death of the 
fleshly organism, there are certain suppositions that I think we may not 
unreasonably make concerning the ability of the discamate " spirit ’ to 
communicate with those yet incarnate. Even under the best of conditions 
for communication — which I am supposing for the nonce to be possible 
— it may well be that the aptitude for communicating clearly may be as 
rare as the gifts that make a great artist, or a great mathematician, or a great 
philosopher. Again, it may well be that, owing to the change connected 
with death itself, the ‘ spirit ’ may at first be much confused, and such 
confusion may last for a long time; and even after the ^spirit’ has 
become accustomed to its new environment, it is not an unreasonable 
supposition that if it came into some such relation to another living 
human organism as it once maintained with its own former organism, it 
would find itself confused by that relation. The state might be like that 
of awakening from a prolonged period of unconciousness into strange 
surroundings. If my own ordinary body could be preserved in its present 
state, and I could absent myself from it for days or months or years, and 
continue my existence under another set of conditions altogether, and if I 
could then return to my own body, it might well be that I should be very 



254 CHAPTER IX [971 

confused and incoherent at first in my manifestations by means of it. 
How much more would this be the case were I to return to another 
human body. I might be troubled with various forms of aphasia and 
agraphia, might be particularly liable to failures of inhibition, might find 
the conditions oppressive and exhausting, and my state of mind would 
probably be of an automatic and dreamlike character. Now, the com- 
municators through Mrs. Piper’s trance exhibit precisely the kind of 
confusion and incoherence which it seems to me we have some reason 
a priori to expect if they are actually what they claim to be.” 

971. At the outset of this chapter I compared the phenomena of 
possession with those of alternating personalities, of dreams, and of 
somnambulism. Now it seems probable that the thesis of multiplex 
personality — namely, that no known current of man’s consciousness 
exhausts his whole consciousness, and no known self-manifestation 
expresses man’s whole potential being — may hold good both for embodied 
and for unembodied men, and this would lead us to expect that the 
manifestations of the departed, — through the sensory automatisms dealt 
with in Chapter VII., and the motor automatisms considered in Chapter 
VIIL, up to the completer form of possession illustrated in the present 
chapter, — would resemble those fugitive and unstable communications 
between widely different strata of personality of which embodied minds 
offer us examples. G. P. himself appears to be well aware of the dream- 
like character of the communications, which, indeed, his own style often 
exemplifies. Thus he wrote on February 15th, 1894 : — 

“ Remember we share and always shall have our friends in the dream- 
life, ue, your life so to speak, which will attract us for. ever and ever, and 
so long as we have any friends sleeping in the material world ; you to us 
are more like as we understand sleep, you look shut up as one in prison, 
and in order for us to get into communication with you, we have to enter 
into your sphere, as one like yourself, asleep. This is just why we make 
mistakes, as you call them, or get confused and muddled.” 

972. Yet even this very difficulty and fragmentariness of communica- 
tion ought in the end to be for us full of an instruction of its own. We 
are here actually witnessing the central mystery of human life, unrolling 
itself under novel conditions, and open to closer observation than ever 
before. We are seeing a mind use a brain. The human brain is in its 
last analysis an arrangement of matter expressly adapted to being acted 
upon by a spirit ; but so long as the accustomed spirit acts upon it the 
working is generally too smooth to allow us a glimpse of the mechanism. 
Now, however, we can watch an unaccustomed spirit, new to the 
instrument, installing itself and feeling its way. The lessons thus learnt 
are likely to be more penetrating than any which mere morbid interrup- 
tions of the accustomed spirit’s work can teach us. In aphasia, for 
instance, we can watch with instruction special difficulties of utterance, 
supervening on special injuries to the brain. But in possession we perceive 



973] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 255 

the controlling spirit actually engaged in overcoming somewhat similar 
difficulties — wnting or uttering the wrong word, and then getting hold of 
the right one — and sometimes even finding power to explain to us some- 
thing of the minute verbal mechanism (so to term it) through whose 
blocking or dislocation the mistake has arisen. 

We may hope, indeed, that as our investigations proceed, and as we 
on this side of the fateful gulf, and the discamate spirits on the' other, 
learn more of the conditions necessary for perfect control of the brain 
and nervous system of intermediaries, — the communications will grow 
fuller and more coherent, and reach a higher level of unitary consciousness. 
Many the difficulties may be, but is there to be no difficulty in linking 
flesh with spirit — in opening to man, from his prisoning planet, a first 
glimpse into cosmic things? If in such speech as this there be any 
reality, it is not stumblings or stammerings that should stop us. Nay, 
already on certain occasions there has been no stumble or stammer — 
when some experienced communicator has poured out an intimate message 
under strong emotion. Such, for instance, was a private message written 
by G. P. to Mr. Howard,” who is, by the way, a well-known and able 
man of professorial status, and who was a definite disbeliever in a future 
life until G. P. convinced him. The holding turn” to that conviction 
was given by the message which Dr. Hodgson thus describes. It was 
written in response to a request for some incident, which certainly no one 
save G. P. and Mr. Howard, his most intimate elder Mend and adviser, 
could possibly have known. 

The transcription here of the words written by G. P. conveys, of 
course, no proper impression of the actual circumstances. The inert mass 
of the upper part of Mrs. Piper’s body turned away from the right arm, 
and sagging down, as it were, limp and lifeless over Mrs. Howard’s 
shoulder, but the right arm, and especially hand, mobile, intelligent, 
deprecatory, then impatient and fierce in the persistence of the writing 
which followed, which contains too much of the personal element in 
G. P.’s life to be reproduced here. Several statements were read by me, 
and assented to by Mr. Howard, and then was written 'private,’ and the 
hand gently pushed me away. I retired to the other side of the room, 
and Mr. Howard took my place close to the hand where he could read the 
writing. He did not, of course, read it aloud, and it was too private for 
my perusal. The hand, as it reached the end of each sheet, tore it off 
from the block-book, and thrust it wildly at Mr. Howard, and then 
continued writing. The circumstances narrated, Mr. Howard informed 
me, contained precisely the kind of test for which he had asked, and he 
said that he was ‘ perfectly satisfied— perfectly.’ ” {Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. xiii., p. 322 .) 

973. In this way we may explain certain facts as to the mode of 
communication which are likely to be at first misinterpreted, and to create 
an impression of pain or strangeness where, in my view, there is nothing 



256 CHAPTER IX [974 

beyond wholesome effort in the normal course of evolution among both 
incarnate and discarnate men. One touch of pathos, indeed — though not 
of tragedy — stands out to my recollection from the trances which I have 
watched — a kind of savage and immemorial emotion which takes one 
back to many an old-world legend, and to the Odyssey of Homer above all. 

Odysseus, at the entrance of the under-world, poured the blood of 
victims into a trench, that the dim spirits of the dead might drink of it 
and have force to speak and hear. But it was to leam from Teiresias that 
he came, and until he had spoken with Teiresias he suffered none of the 
thronging spirits to draw anigh. There sat he — as Polygnotus* picture 
showed him— on a heap of stones in the grey light beside the trench, his 
drawn sword laid betwixt him and his mother’s soul ; since, not even 
thus, tho’ sick at heart, would I suffer her to come nigh the blood, ere I 
had heard the tale Teiresias had to tell.” 

aXX’ ovS’ S? €tfi)v irporipriv, ttvkivov rrep dx^vapf 
aLfMTQS d(r(rov t/xev irplv Tcipecriao m)6i(r6ai» 

Even in such fashion, through Mrs. Piper’s trances, the thronging 
multitude of the departed press to the glimpse of light. Eager, but 
untrained, they interject their uncomprehended cries ; vainly they call the 
names which no man answers; like birds that have beaten against a 
lighthouse, they pass in disappointment away. At first this confusion 
gravely interfered with coherent messages, but through the second and 
third stages of Mrs. Piper’s trances, under the watchful care apparently of 
supervising spirits, it has tended more and more to disappear. 

All this must needs be so ; yet I, at least, had not realised beforehand 
that the pressure from that side was likely to be more urgent than from 
this. Naturally ; since often on this side something of inevitable doubt 
— nay, of shuddering prejudice and causeless fear — curdles the stream of 
love ; while for them the imperishable affection flows on unchecked and 
full. They yearn to tell of their bliss, to promise their welcome at the 
destined hour. A needless scruple, indeed, which dreads to call or to 
constrain them 1 We can bind them by no bonds but of love ; they are 
more ready to hear than we to pray ; of their own act and grace they 
visit our spirits in prison. 

974. We must now remember that this series of incidents does not 
stand alone. This case of Mrs. Piper is, indeed, one of the most in- 
structive in our collection, on account of its length and complexity and 
the care with which it has been observed. But it is led up to by all our 
previous evidences, and I will here briefly state what facts they are which 
our recorded apparitions, intimations, messages of the departing and the 
departed, have, to my mind, actually proved. 

(a) In the first place, they prove survival pure and simple ; the per- 
sistence of the spirit’s life as a structural law of the universe ; the in- 
alienable heritage of each several soul. 



975] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 257 

(b) In the second place, they prove that between the spiritual and the 
material worlds an avenue of communication does in fact exist; that 
which we call the despatch and the receipt of telepathic messages, or 
the utterance and the answer of prayer and supplication. (See p. 309.) 

{c) In the third place, they prove that the surviving spirit retains, at 
least in some measure, the memories and the loves of earth. Without 
this persistence of love and memory should we be in truth the same? 
To what extent has any philosophy or any revelation assured us hereof 
till now? 

The above points, I think, are certain, if the apparitions and messages 
proceed in reality from the sources which they claim. On a lower evi- 
dential level comes the thesis drawn from the contents of the longer 
messages, which contents may of course be influenced in unknown degree 
by the expectation of the recipients or by some such infusion of dream- 
like matter as I have already mentioned. That thesis is as follows; I 
offer it for what it may be worth : Every element of individual wisdom, 
virtue, love, develops in infinite evolution toward an ever-highering hope ; 
toward Him who is at once thine innermost Self, and thine ever un- 
attainable Desire.” 

For my own part, the alleged revelation in its general character, so far 
as yet coherent, seems to me so good and right that I mistrust it on that 
very ground, fearing lest it be but the reflection of the momentary attitude 
of the petty minds of men. Many of the messages, no doubt, have been 
delivered to persons whose own preconceptions were at least partly hostile 
to the teaching given. But this proves little ; for there may be a kind of 
sub-conscious consensus of opinion — a Zeit-Geist — in all contemporary 
minds beneath their superficial differences of Church or philosophical 
school. We need more tests and more corroborations, a clearer and more 
continuous control of the channels of utterance, before we can transmit 
with confidence anything beyond the barest provisional sketch of that 
Orbis Ignotus. Enough, surely, and more than man had dared to hope, 
if now a channel of communication is veritably opened, and if the first 
message is one of love. And I believe that whatever of new revelation 
may thus be coming to us comes not to destroy but to fulfil. Is there not 
promise of some fulfilment — of some synthesis of those partial glimpses of 
the past — even in the few bald phrases in which I have adumbrated what 
we are beginning to know ? If we define Religion as man’s normal 
subjective response to the sum of known cosmic phenomena, taken as an 
intelligible whole,” how different will that response become when we know 
for certain that no love can die ; when we discern the bewildering Sura of 
Things — beyond all bounds of sect or system, strepiiumque Acheroniis 
avari — broadening and heightening into a moral Cosmos such as our 
race could scarcely even conceive till now ! 

975. There is, however, one feeling which has done much to deter 
inquiry in these directions. To many minds there seems to be a want of 
VOL. n. R 



258 


CHAPTER IX 


[975 

dignity in this mode of acquiring knowledge of an unseen world. It is felt 
that even as there is something grand and noble in the object, there ought 
to be something correspondingly exalted in the means employed. This has, 
it is thought, been the case with all former revelations which have made any 
serious claim on the attention of mankind. Religions have been supported 
by tradition, by miracle, by the deep personal emotion which they have 
been able to generate. There is something paltry or even repugnant 
in the notion of establishing a new faith upon a series of experiments 
dealing mainly with certain kinds of physical sensibility which seem at 
best to be scattered at random among mankind. 

There is real prima facie force in such an objection. It is not fanciful 
to demand something of manifest congruity between means and end ; 
not fanciful, at any rate, to distrust any powers merely of the flesh as 
explaining to us the powers of the spirit. 

And yet, on a wider view, we shall perceive that what is missing in 
this new inquiry lies merely in such elements of impressiveness as befit 
the mere childhood of the world ; while, on the other hand, we are gaining 
for the quest of spiritual truth that truer dignity which Science has given 
to man’s scattered knowledge ; — the dignity of universal cogency and of 
unarrested progressiveness. Science, as we know, will not rest with com- 
placency in presence of the exceptional, the catastrophic, the miraculous. 
Such qualities constitute for her not a claim to reverence but a challenge 
to explanation. She finds a truer grandeur in the colligation of startling 
phenomena under some comprehensive generalisation. Her highest ideal 
is cosmic law ; — and she begins to suspect that any law which is truly 
cosmic is also in some sense evolutionary. 

Now I repeat, — and in the present stage of human thought it can 
scarcely be repeated too often, — that in the law of telepathy, developing 
into the law of spiritual intercommunication between incarnate and dis- 
camate spirits, we see dimly adumbrated before our eyes the highest law 
with which our human science can conceivably have to deal. The 
discovery of telepathy opens before us a potential communication between 
all life. 

And if, as our present evidence indicates, this telepathic intercourse 
can subsist between embodied and disembodied souls, that law must 
needs lie at the very centre of cosmic evolution. It will be evolutionary, 
as depending on a faculty now in actual course of development. It will 
be cosmic ; for it may — it almost must — by analogy subsist not on this 
planet only, but wherever in the universe discamate and incarnate spirits 
may be intermingled or juxtaposed. 

This surely is a generalisation as vast, as impressive, as the human 
mind can entertain. Tradition, miracle, personal emotion; — which of 
these ancient buttresses is any longer needed for the firmer, the scientific 
faith? And yet, if it be a question of tradition^ what single religion can 
unite and harmonise oecumenical tradition like this old-new creed? The 



976] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 259 

legendary lore of all countries, — the sacred books of all religions, — the 
Bible itself included, — are full of psychical phenomena which thus only 
are made coherent and intelligible. If there be question of miracle, what 
sacred history can show such strange apparent contraventions of the 
physical order, — such victories over the grossness of matter, — as our ob- 
servations involve ? — or (better still) can reduce all these so convincingly 
under the realm of Higher Law? While as for personal emotion; — what 
can there be at once more intimate and more exalting than the waking 
reality of converse with beloved and enfranchised souls? So shall a 
man feel the ancient fellow- labour deepened, the old kinship closer 
still ; the earthly passion sealed and hallowed by the irreversible judg- 
ment of the Blest. 

976. Among the cases of trance discussed in this chapter, we have 
found intimately interwoven with the phenomena of possession many 
instances of its correlative, — ecstasy. Mrs. Piper’s fragmentary utterances 
and visions during her passage from trance to waking life, — utterances 
and visions that fade away and leave no remembrance in her waking self ; 
Moses* occasional visions, his journeys in the spirit world ** which he 
recorded on returning to his ordinary consciousness ; Home’s entrance- 
ment and converse with the various controls whose messages he gave ; — 
all these suggest actual excursions of the incarnate spirit from its organism. 
The theoretical importance of these spiritual excursions is, of course, very 
great. It is, indeed, so great that most men will hesitate to accept a 
thesis which carries us straight into the inmost sanctuary of mysticism ; 
which preaches a precursory entrance into the most holy place, as by 
divine transportation.” 

Yet I think that this belief, although extreme, is not, at the point to 
which our evidence has carried us, in any real way improbable. To put 
the matter briefly, if a spirit from outside can enter the organism, the 
spirit from inside can go out, can change its centre of perception and 
action, in a way less complete and irrevocable than the change of death. 
Ecstasy would thus be simply the complementary or correlative aspect of 
spirit- control. Such a change need not be a spatial change, any more 
than there need be any spatial change for the spirit which invades the 
deserted organism. Nay, further: if the incarnate spirit can in this 
manner change its centre of perception in response (so to say) to a 
discarnate spirit’s invasion of the organism, there is no obvious reason 
why it should not do so on other occasions as well. We are already 
familiar with '^travelling clairvoyance,” a spirit’s change of centre of 
perception among the scenes of the material world. May there not be 
an extension of travelling clairvoyance to the spiritual world? a spon- 
taneous transfer of the centre of perception into that region from 
whence discarnate spirits seem now to be able, on their side, to com- 
municate with growing freedom? 



260 CHAPTER IX [977 

The conception of ecstasy — at once in its most literal and in its most 
lofty sense — has thus developed itself, almost insensibly, from several 
concurrent lines of actual modem evidence. It must still, of course, be 
long before we can at all adequately separate, — I can hardly say the 
objective from the subjective element in the experience, for we have got 
beyond the region where the meaning of those words is clear, — but the 
element in the experience which is recognised and responded to by spirits 
other than the ecstatic*s, from the element which belongs to his own 
spirit alone. 

In the meantime, however, the fact that this kind of communion of 
ecstasy has been, in preliminary fashion, rendered probable is of the 
highest importance for our whole inquiry. We thus come directly into 
relation with the highest form which the various religions known to men 
have assumed in the past. 

977. It is hardly a paradox to say that the evidence for ecstasy is 
stronger than the evidence for any other religious belief. Of all the 
subjective experiences of religion, ecstasy is that which has been most 
urgently, perhaps to the psychologist most convincingly, asserted ; and it 
is not confined to any one religion. From a psychological point of view, 
one main indication of the importance of a subjective phenomenon found 
in religious experience will be the fact that it is common to all religions. 
I doubt whether there is any phenomenon, except ecstasy, of which 
this can be said. From the medicine-man of the lowest savages up to 
St. John, St. Peter, St. Paul, with Buddha and Mahomet on the way, 
we find records which, though morally and intellectually much diifering, 
are in psychological essence the same. 

At all stages alike we find that the spirit is conceived as quitting the 
body ; or, if not quitting it, at least as greatly expanding its range of per- 
ception in some state resembling trance. Observe, moreover, that on this 
view all genuine recorded forms of ecstasy are akin, and all of them 
represent a real fact. 

We thus show continuity and reality among phenomena which have 
seldom been either correlated with each other or even intelligibly conceived 
in separation. With our new insight we may conelate the highest and the 
lowest ecstatic phenomena with no injury whatever to the highest. The 
shaman, the medicine-man — when he is not a mere impostor — enters as 
truly into the spiritual world as St. Peter or St. Paul. Only he enters a 
different region thereof ; a confused and darkened picture terrifies instead 
of exalting him. For us, however, the very fact that we believe in Ms 
vision gives a new reality to strengthen and aid our belief in the apostle's 
vision of the seventh heaven/' 

Whether in the body or out of the body," whether the seer's spirit 
be severed for the time from his organism or no, such inlet and intro- 
gression does occur. 

It is these subjective feelings of vision or inspiration which have to 



977] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 261 

many men formed the most impressive and fruitful moments of life. 
While not allowing an objective truth to their revelations, we shall now 
be prepared to admit a reality in the subjective experience. There is 
no special point at which we must assume a barrier interposed to the 
inward withdrawal and onward urgency of man. 

We need not deny the transcendental ecstasy to any of the strong 
souls who have claimed to feel it ; — to Elijah or to Isaiah, to Plato or to 
Plotinus, to St. John or to St. Paul, to Buddha or Mahomet, to Virgil or 
Dante, to St. Theresa or to Joan of Arc, to Kant or to Swedenborg, to 
Wordsworth or to Tennyson. Through many ages that insight and that 
memory have wrought their work in many ways. The remembrance of 
ecstasy has inspired religions, has founded philosophies, has lifted into 
stainless heroism a simple girl. Yet religions and philosophies — as these 
have hitherto been known — are but balloon-flights which have carried 
separate groups up to the mountain summit, whither science at last must 
make her road for all men clear. It is by breach of continuity^ by passing 
from one element to another, that they have been able to soar so high. 
For science, on the other hand, the continuity of the Universe is in fact 
its key. The task of our race in its maturity must be to rise to those 
same heights with that steady tramp as of legions along a Roman road 
which has already gathered in the earthly knowledge of earlier ages 
within the pomoerium of scientific law. The continuity of the universe, 
that is to say, so far as by us comprehensible, must needs be a con- 
tinuity of objective j and for that very reason of symbolic manifestation. 
All the objective is symbolic; our daily bread is as symbolic as the 
furniture of Swedenborg’s heavens and hells. To our embodied souls 
the matter round us seems real and self-existent ; to souls emancipated 
it is but the sign of the degree which we have reached, and thus the 
highest task of science must be to link and co-ordinate the symbols 
appropriate to our tenene state with the symbols appropriate to the 
state immediately above us. Nay, one might push this truth to paradox, 
and maintain that of all earth’s inspired spirits it has been the least 
divinised, the least lovable, who has opened the surest path for men. 
Religions have risen and die again ; philosophy, poetry, heroism, answer 
only indirectly the prime need of men. Plotinus, the eagle soaring 
above the tomb of Plato,” is lost to sight in the heavens. Conquering and 
to conquer, the Maid rides on through other worlds than ours. Virgil 
himself, light among the vanished ages, star that gildest yet this earthly 
shore,” sustains our spirit, as I have said, but indirectly, by filling still 
our fountain of purest intellectual joy. But the prosaic Swede, his 
stiff mind prickly with dogma, — the opaque cell-walls of his intelligence 
flooded cloudily by the irradiant day, — this man as by the very limitations 
of his faculty, by the practical humility of a spirit trained to acquire but 
not to generate truth,— has awkwardly laid the corner-stone, ^otesquely 
sketched the elevation of a temple which our remotest posterity will be 



262 


CHAPTER IX 


[978 

upbuilding and adorning still. For he dimly felt that man's true passage 
and intuition from state to state depends not upon individual ecstasy, 
but upon comprehensive law ; while yet all law is in fact but symbol ; 
adaptation of truth timeless and infinite to intelligences of lower or higher 
range. 

978. In the course of this book I have several times touched on 
the difficult questions raised by the incidents which have been classed 
as retrocognitive and precognitive,^ and which seem to suggest a power 
yet more remote than telepathy or telesesthesia from our ordinary 
methods of acquiring knowledge. The consideration of the problems 
involved was, however, postponed to this chapter, and must now be 
dealt with here. 

In a universe where instantaneous gravitation operates unexplained — 
where a world of ether coexists with a world of matter — men's minds must 
needs have a certain openness to other mysterious transmissions ; must 
be ready to conceive other invisible evironments or co-existences, and in 
a sense to sit loose to the conception of Space, regarded as an obstacle to 
communication or cognition. A similar emancipation from the limita- 
tions of Time is more difficult. We can, of course, imagine increased 
powers of remembering the Past, of inferring the future. But we can 
hardly conceive the Past revived, save in some mind which has directly 
observed it. And to imagine the Future as known, except by inference 
and contingently, to any mind whatever is to induce at once that iron 
collision between Free Will and Fixed Fate, Foreknowledge absolute," 
from which no sparks of light have ever yet been struck. Still more un- 
welcome is the further view that the so-called Future actually already 
exists ; and that apparent time-progression is a subjective human sensa- 
tion, and not inherent in the universe as that exists in an Infinite Mind. 

Nor shall we in fact find it necessary to insist upon any very revolu- 
tionary line of explanation. There is one analogy which will meet 

1 A more complete discussion of these phenomena, with numerous cases illustrating 
apparent stages in their evolution, and a description of the faculties they seem to 
indicate, summarised in a diagrammatic scheme, are given in my article on Retro- 
cognition and Precognition” in the Proceedings S.P.R,, voL xi. pp. 334-593- 

For references to retrocognitive cases, see sections 672, 663, 733, 869-863, 963, 
also 672 A, 672 B. See also the accounts of retrocognitive scenes quoted in the 
record of Miss A/s crystal visions in 625 C. For cases bearing on precognition see the 
case of Anna Winsor (237 A), where there were predictions concerning the course of 
her disease ; refer to 641 F and 564 A, where the difficulty of excluding the agency 
of self-suggestion is considered ; conipare also the cases given in 641 H and 673 F — 
where prognoses concerning other persons were made correctly by hypnotised subjects 
— and the prediction of his aunt's death given in Mr. W.'s automatic writing, in 873, 
See section 425 and the Appendices to that section, also 663 A, the cases in section 
717 and 717 B, cases 6 , 7 , ii, and iz in the experiences of Lady Mabel Howard, 
861 A ; also 852 A, 874 A, 927 B, and section 963 with its Appendices. There may 
have been something of prevision also in Professor Thoulet's case, in 930. 



979] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 263 

most of our evidence (though not all), and to which we must repeatedly 
recur as our simplest guide. As is the memory and the foresight of a 
child to that of a man, even such, I suggest, is the memory and the 
foresight of the man’s supraliminal self as compared to the retro- 
cognition and the precognition exercised by an intelligence unrestrained 
by sensory limits; — whether that intelligence belong to the man’s own 
subliminal self, or to an unembodied human spirit, or possibly to spirits 
higher than human. I maintain that in this thesis there is nothing in- 
credible j — nay, that it is the necessary corollary of belief in the existence 
anywhere of any extension of the powers which we habitually exercise. 

If there is a transcendental world at all, there is a transcendental view 
of Past and Future fuller and further-reaching than the empirical ; and in 
that view we may ourselves to some extent participate, either directly, as 
being ourselves denizens all along of the transcendental world, or indirectly, 
as receiving intimations from spirits from whom the shadow in which our 
own spirits are ‘‘ half lost ” has melted away. 

This I believe to be the central reflection to which the study of super- 
normal knowledge of Past and Future at present points us ; and I shall 
be well satisfied if the evidence should persuade the reader that in some 
undefined fashion we share at moments in this transcendental purview. 
As to the precise manner in which we share it, the difficulties are just 
those which meet us when, in any other group of our phenomena, we try 
to distinguish between the activity of the automatist’s own spirit, and of 
other spirits, embodied or unembodied, and perhaps also of a World-Soul 
or of Intelligences finite, but above anthropomorphic personification. 

979. The general characteristic of these occurrences is to show us 
fragments of knowledge coming to us in obscure and often symbolical 
ways, and extending over a wider tract of time than any faculty known to 
us can be stretched to cover. On the one side there is retro cognition^ or 
knowledge of the past, extending back beyond the reach of our ordinary 
memory; on the other side there is precognition^ or knowledge of the 
future, extending onwards beyond the scope of our ordinary inference. 

In each direction, indeed, there are certain landmarks ; the regression 
and the progression alike seem to develop gradually, and to follow lines 
which we can learn to recognise. In the direction of the Past we begin 
with hypermnesia ; — our first step lies in the conception that what has once 
been presented to our sensory field, although never gathered into what we 
deem our conscious perception, may nevertheless have been perceived 
and retained by the subliminal self. It is partly through dream and partly 
by automatic artifices that this fact is realised; and those same dreams, 
those same artifices of script or vision, presently carry us a step further, 
and reveal a knowledge which must have come from the memories of 
other living persons, or (as I hold) of departed spirits. Then in another 
direction a less direct source of knowledge opens out ; living organisms, 
our own or others’, disclose (in ways unknown to biology) the history 



264 CHAPTER IX [980 

implicate in their structure; objects which have been in contact with 
organisms preserve their trace ; and it sometimes seems as though even 
inorganic nature could still be made, so to say, luminescent with the age- 
long story of its past. Or it may even be that some retrocognitive picture 
is presented which we may discover to be veracious, but with which we 
can discern no spiritual or material link ; as though a page of the cosmic 
record had been opened to us at random, and had closed again without 
sign or clue. 

980. And next let us look forward into the Future ; — across that im- 
palpable, almost imaginary line of the Present Moment, which for us is 
the greatest reality of all. Naturally enough, the first time-confusion 
which we find is a confusion affecting that present moment itself ; namely, 
that sensation of already remembering what is happening or is just about 
to happen to which some authors have applied the too wide term 
paramnesia^ but for which promnesia seems a more exact and distinctive 
name.i Next we have the wide range of suggestive phenomena, where the 
subliminal self possesses knowledge of the future unshared by the supra- 
liminal ; since the subliminal self has in fact wound up the organism to 
strike a given note at a given hour. Self-suggestion in turn merges into 
organic prevision; where the subliminal self foresees what will happen — 
not in consequence of any determining effort of its own, but by virtue of 
its deeper knowledge of the organism and of the changes which that 
organism must by physiological laws undergo. This organic prevision may 
lead us far ; but as it grows more distant and complex, involving more and 
more of a man’s future environment, as w^ell as of his future organic history, 
it merges into a form of precognition which cannot depend on insight 
into material bodies alone. 

We now proceed, that is to say, along a line which is an extension of 
ordinary intellectual inference. First comes hypersesthetic inference ; — 
that enlarged span of anticipation which acuter sensory impressions 
permit ; as a sensitive patient will be able to predict her doctor’s visit 
when his step is merely heard in the street, although others cannot 
recognise that step until it is close to the bedroom door. Then comes an 
obscure point where this hypersesthesia seems to pass into telsesthesia ; — 
where sensory perception seems to cease, and supersensory, telepathic, or 
clairvoyant perception to begin. 

Well then, when we have definitely passed from the sensory to the 
transcendental mode of perception, it is probable that our power of infer- 
ence as to the future will be greatly enlarged. We cannot, indeed, guess 
how far this enlargement will extend. There is nothing absolutely to 
forbid us to regard all precognitions as the result of this wider outlook of 
the subliminal self. (See 980 A.) 

1 For a discussion o£ this subject with illustrative cases, see pp. 341-347 of my 
article on The Subliminal Self : Retrocognition and Precognition,” in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. xi. 



982] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 265 

981. Nor shall I attempt to draw the line at which this telassthetic in- 
ference ceases. If I do still look further for other sources of precognition, 
this is partly because in some cases I think that there is actual evidence 
that the precognition comes from a disembodied intelligence ; and partly 
also on the wider ground that I distrust all explanations which give to 
man, embodied or disembodied, any monopoly of the transcendental 
world. The simplicity of our instinctive anthropomorphism is not the 
simplicity of truth ; — it is no more so, when we are thus dealing with 
intelligences which may be far above our ken, than when the savage 
ascribes to a man-like demon the movements and influences of gross 
inanimate things. 

But first, as I have said, I ascribe some precognitions to the reasoned 
foresight of disembodied spirits, just as I ascribe some retrocognitions to 
their surviving memory. I have tried to show ground for believing that 
some spirits have a continued knowledge of some earthly affairs ; and if 
they have such knowledge, and can show us that they have it, they may 
presumably reveal to us also their not infallible inferences from what they 
know. 

Thus far I have been indicating roads along which I fancy that believers 
in any kind of transcendental faculty will some day be forced to travel. 
What follows is a speculation, or suspicion, which no record or experi- 
ments of ours can prove, but which seems to me to loom behind them 
all. I suspect, then, that it is not by wider purview, wiser inference 
alone, that finite minds, in the body or out of it, have attained to 
knowledge of what yet must be. I imagine that the Continuity of the 
Universe is complete; and that therefore the hierarchy of intelligences 
between our minds and the World-Soul is infinite ; and that somewhere 
in that ascent a point is reached where our conception of time loses 
its accustomed meaning. To Plato’s Spectator of all Time and of all 
Existence ” there may be no barrier between Then and Now. The 
idea, of course, is familiar enough to philosophical speculation. The 
novelty is that this, with many other ideas which have hitherto floated 
gaseously inter apices philosophic^^ like helium in the atmosphere of the 
sun, may now conceivably be tested in earthly laboratories and used 
as a working explanation for undeniable facts. 

982. Returning now to the question of retrocognition, let us consider 
to what extent our knowledge of the Past will sometimes open itself 
beyond the familiar bounds. We may begin by inquiring in what ways we 
ordinarily and normally acquire our knowledge of the Past. We acquire 
such knowledge partly from direct personal memory, and partly from 
retrospective inference based on what we see or hear. We might, indeed, 
define memory as an acquisition of fresh potential changes of conscious- 
ness concomitant with changes in our organism, which imply certain past 
events as their cause. But this definition, which sounds natural enough 
when applied to diffused or organic memories, such as the cricketer’s 



266 


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[982 

memory of the feel of the bat, would seem pedantic if applied to the 
minute cerebral changes which accompany the learning of a new fact. In 
such a case we ignore in common speech the real organic change which 
the learning of any fact implies in us, and we merely refer to the specialised 
sensory channel through which the information comes to us — as hearing, 
reading, and so forth. In a vague but quite intelligible way, we thus mark 
off organic memory from definite sensory or intellectual memories. 

In our inquiry into retrocognition it will be well to keep roughly to 
some division of this sort, and to begin by inquiring into the extensions 
which seem to be given to organic me?nory. 

We know, of course, that there is a great difference between our evo cable 
memory — that which we can summon up and use at will — and that much 
ampler memory which we must suppose to exist, in some potential form 
at least, imprinted upon our organism. The faint and crude recollections 
of sensations and movements, which are all that we can call into ordinary 
consciousness, would be far from enabling us to recognise sensations, or 
to repeat movements, as we actually do recognise and repeat them. The 
study of hypnotic suggestion, moreover, has shown us how these potential 
or latent memories may be grasped and used. The increased power over 
the organism which the subject under suggestion shows necessarily implies 
an increased memory of the organism’s past; the hyperboulia, as I have 
termed it, is hypermnesia as well. That wider will-power, indeed, is 
probably no more aware of the exact mechanism which it employs in its 
control of secretions, &c., than I am of the exact mechanism by which I 
raise my hand to my head. And, similarly, the hypnotic memory is 
probably itself very shallow as compared to what a complete summation of 
all the lapsed memories of the organism might be. But already we find 
it descending deeply to gland and blood-vessel, implicated as these are in 
stigmatisation and similar phenomena, and we can draw no clear line 
below which all organic consciousness must cease, and memory must 
become no more than a metaphor. 

We cannot draw such a line, I say, either on the basis of smallness of 
magnitude or of remoteness in time. We cannot assert that organic 
memory may not inhere in a single cell or neuron, or even in a single 
living molecule. Neither can we assert that organic memory cannot be 
prolonged backwards before birth. Birth, indeed, is but an incident in 
each organism’s history ; that organism has an embryonic life before birth, 
— and a pre- embryonic life in countless lines of ancestry. Although we 
no longer say with the traducianist ” schoolmen that Adam’s body 
included not only his own soul but the souls of all his descendants, we 
still trace to ancestors more remote than Adam characteristics which even 
now influence our psychical life. 

It is a moot point bow far the life-experiences of each organism modify 
by what we regard as purely physiological transmission the characteristics 
of its descendants. The rude suggestion (so to term it) of the amputated 



982] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 267 

limb, or other injury, is commonly not accepted by the offspring j the 
embryo develops unaffected by the shock which the parent has undergone 
previously to the act of union. But if that shock fall upon the mother 
during the embryo’s life, and if it chance — (in post-natal suggestions also 
there seems much of what we must needs call chance in this) — if it chance 
to reach the mother’s subliminal self in effective fashion, it may then 
transfer itself to the embryo, and imprint upon the child the organic 
memory of the mother’s emotion of admiration, disgust, or fear. No one 
doubts this form of heredity when it is exhibited on a striking scale, — as 
with children born during the alarms of a siege, or of the Reign of Terror 
in France. And I believe that there is evidence enough to show that 
isolated and momentary suggestions — as the sight of a crushed ankle or 
missing finger — may produce a definite localised effect on the embryo in 
much the same way as a hypnotic suggestion may produce a localised 
congestion or secretion.^ 

If, then, we thus find imprinted on the child’s organism such a con- 
spicuous, specialised memory of perhaps an almost instantaneous emotion 
of the mother’s, we must surely suspect that his organism may contain 
also some inborn memories less conspicuous and more purely cerebral 
than such a gross phenomenon as a mark on the face or a deformed finger. 
And by this new route we shall come round again to something like the 
innate ideas of certain philosophical systems. Nor can we absolutely 
limit such influence to the actual parent organism alone. For aught we 
know, the germ-plasm ” — whatsoever may be the continuous link of all 
generations — may be capable of reacting to psychical suggestions as sensi- 
tively as the embryo. The shaping forces which have made our bodies 
and our minds what they are may always have been partly psychical forces, 
— from the first living slime-speck to the complex intelligences of to-day. 

This view is not inconsistent with the suggestion which I have made 
elsewhere, that the human spirit’s supernormal powers of telepathy and 
telsesthesia are survivals from the powers which that spirit once exercised 
in a transcendental world. It may well be that the spirit, already modified 
by cosmic experiences dating back to infinity, may inform the body already 
modified by terrene experiences dating back to the first appearance of life 
on our planet. Both the old traducianist and the old transmigrationist 
view would thus possess a share of truth ; and the actual man would be 
the resultant not only of intermingling heredities on father’s and mother’s 
side, but of intermingling heredities, one of planetar^'' and one of cosmic 
scope. 

Passing on from hereditary or pre-natal memories, through the various 
other types, — e.g, the organic memory of impressions received by each man 
during his own past life ; the occasional sudden revival of a series of life- 
memories both swifter and fuller than conscious effort could have supplied ; 
cases of ecmnesia, where the recent impressions are suppressed in favour 
^ See voL i., 526 and 526 A, B, and C. 



268 


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[983 

of the old ; cases where the hysteric under skilful hypnotic treatment can 
recall and reveal the long-forgotten incident which started her malady ; — 
we may place next cases of clairvoyant insight into the organic condition 
of an absent person. Here we come to a definitely supernormal power ; 
and it is a power which claims to involve both backward and forward 
knowledge such as actual medical examination of the patient could not 
attain. There are further cases in which a definite fact in a man’s life has 
become known supernormally ; or sometimes a recent event unconnected 
with the percipient is revealed ; and there are, of course, numerous trance 
communications where knowledge of the past is claimed to proceed from 
some more or less definite disembodied intelligence. Supernormal retro- 
cognition depends, it appears, on the perception by us of knowledge 
contained in other minds, embodied or disembodied, and possibly on the 
absorption by us of knowledge afloat, so to say, in the Universe ; — which 
may be grasped by our spirit’s outreaching, or which may fall on us like 
dew. 

983. Coming now to precognitions, we must first observe that there 
are many where what looks like knowledge of the future can be analysed 
into an enlarged knowledge of what actually exists. 

There are, indeed, certain phenomena — “ monitions ” as we may term 
them — which in common parlance are often spoken of as /r<?raonitions, and 
used as a type of knowledge of the future, where it is nevertheless plain 
that all that is needed is a somewhat extended perception of near facts. 

These monitions — of which several instances were given in 818-825, — 
range from incidents so trivial and momentary that it would seem absurd 
to ascribe them to anything more dignified than a barely subliminal 
stratum of the percipient’s own consciousness, up to important warnings 
which claim the authority of some departed but still watchful friend. 

At the lower end of this series come the obscure intimations which 
restrain us from action on grounds which perhaps are only just forgotten 
and still by effort recoverable. The chess player, returning after various 
trains of calculation to the temptation of a specious move, will dimly feel 
a sense of restraint; — “I must not do that^ though I cannot recollect 
why.^'^ Sometimes this subliminal warning presents itself as a physical 
hesitation ; — the hand refusing to execute an order which is really un- 
reasonable ; — and which is felt to be such so soon as some trivial recent 
fact is remembered. (See 818 A.) 

One step further, and we have an actual externalised hallucination of 
touch checking the inconsiderate action. (See 818 B.) 

Next we come to monitions based upon a fact apparently not forgotten 
merely, but never known ; a fact lying demonstrably beyond the normal 
sensory cognisance of the percipient. 

A fact beyond his normal sensory cognisance, I say; but obviously 
before we assume that he has perceived that fact in a transcendental or 
telsesthetic fashion, we must make the fullest allowance for h3rper9es- 



983] TRANCE, POSSESSION, ECSTASY 269 

thesia, — for an extension of the bodily senses which may include this 
strange knowledge within its range. Nay, more ; our search for possible 
hyperaesthesia is bound to be much wider than any search which the 
physiologist is likely thus far to have found worth his pains. His interest 
has lain in definite meastirable extensions of the higher senses, rather 
than in obscure and novel sensations which led to no clear end. It is 
for these last, on the other hand, that it is our special duty to search. 
We have obscure and novel facts to explain, and before we confidently 
assign them to psychical and transcendental causes, we must try and 
think of everything which the human body might conceivably discern 
or discover. 

I say “ the body ” rather than the senses ” ; for we must go back in our 
inquiry (though of course without expectation of immediate success) to an 
ancestral condition far anterior to any senses which we now know. We 
must go back to the first germ of life, and in place of merely crediting it 
with “ irritability,’* which is all the power of reaction which it can actually 
show us, we must credit it with all the potentialities which the history of 
its descendants teaches us to infer as already latent in it. We know into 
how wide a gamut of feeling the germ’s vague internal sensation, its vague 
external sensation, have diffused and specialised themselves in man. We 
dimly conjecture into what other rays the spectrum of that dim primal 
gleam of consciousness has been fanned out in animals other than man. 
And we may feel assured also, as I have already pointed out, that all the 
known or guessed sensations of men and animals are but a small selection 
from the range of sensations potentially educible from the vague pancBS^ 
thesia ^ — ^so to term it, — of the primal germ. Average experience within 
average limits — ^that is all that our known senses cover. If the stimulus 
be too weak, we are liable to mistake the sense through which it comes to 
us ; if it be too strong, we are liable to feel a mere distress or bewilder- 
ment, not referred to any definite sense. It is surely conceivable, then, 
that all our known sensibilities may form merely a kind of bull’s eye ; — 
the place where outer and inner influences oftenest touch our central 
sensorium ; — while round this bull’s-eye all kinds of unclassified obscure 
sensations probably scatter. 

It follows that when we have to explain very strange perceptions we 
must be on the look-out, not only for the hyperaesthesia of known senses, 
but also for that more generalised form of hyperaesthesia which may involve 
senses (peripheral or central) as yet incipient and unrecognised, although 
still depending on the material world, — a wider selection from the potential 
panaesthesia of the primal germ. There may — there must — ^be evolution 
still going on in us in relation to our material as well as to our transcen- 
dental environment, and we must not claim phenomena for the latter 
without taking account of the former as well. 

Once more, we must remember that the assumed new sensitivities, 
physical and transcendental, may be linked together in ways quite unknown 



2JO 


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[984 


to us. The synsesthesige, which have only of late years been noted 
between the ordinary senses — of which coloured audition,” or sound- 
seeing, is the accepted type — may be carried yet further, and may connect 
in unlooked-for ways man's responses to his physical and to his trans- 
cendental environments. There will be nothing to surprise us if the same 
percipient should receive a number of subliminal intimations, of which 
some are to be referred to hyperaesthesia and some to telsesthesia, or to 
telepathy from the living or from the dead. 

I have said that hypersesthesia may be peripheral or central j — that is to 
say, that it may consist in the heightened perception of sensations coming 
from outside our organism, or from within the brain. I have already 
given (820-823) some cases of apparent telsesthesia, or of apparent pre- 
vision, which may possibly, though by no means certainly, be referable to 
an extension of the external senses. 

From these cases of possible hypersesthesia of the external senses we 
may make our transition to central hypersesthesia, a heightening of inner 
sensations to a point where the future history of the organisation can be 
guessed or divined with unusual distinctness. This is virtually but another 
aspect of the knowledge of intimate processes which self-suggestion has so 
often shown. If the subliminal self can induce or arrest changes in the 
organism, it may well be able also to foresee such changes when they are 
approaching through natural causes. In whatever direction we have seen 
suggestion operate, in that direction may we expect to see organic predic- 
tion operate also. Thus, for instance, suggestion has produced fainting, 
and also bleeding at the nose, and we have cases of precisely similar 
predictions (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 339 ; and vol. xi. p. 
426), or even predictions of death (see 425 A). 

984. This seems to show that a man's subliminal self may sometimes 
perceive his own approaching death, and may transmit this knowledge to 
the empirical self, sometimes by aid of a hallucination. Now we know 
that the subliminal self may sometimes communicate to other persons 
knowledge which it cannot or does not communicate to its own empirical 
self. Th